GLENDALE–After the educationals and test–23 badanees were ready to join the Armenian Youth Federation ran’s on June 25 at AYF Camp.
On behalf of the Central Executive–Chairman of the AYF Western Region Shant Baboujian stressed the importance of duty–responsibility–and service to their respective communities–as well as to the Armenian Cause.
Baboujian then invited AYF alumni and director of the camp–Karnig Sarkissian–to share their memories and experiences with the novices. After a short question and answer session–Baboujian introduced ANCA Western Region Board member Raffi Hamparian–who served as the "Gnkahayr" for the oath ceremony.
Prior to the oath ceremony–Melkon Melkonian spoke about AYF’s progress through the years. Hamparian also spoke of the AYF legacy and its continuous growth and prosperity. As the oath ceremony finally began–Hamparian led the youth in pledging to devote their energies toward achieving a free–independent–and united Armenia.
"Before taking their oath–our newest members successfully completed the AYF Educational Program–designed to educate them about Armenian history–the Genocide–our struggles–and the organization in general," said Marita Medzachian–Educational Central Council chairperson.
The Central Executive presented each new member with a symbolic gift–after which the new members–past members–and ARF members had the opportunity to interact–and sing songs around a camp fire accompanied by Karnig Sarkissian.
To become full fledged AYF member–applicants must complete an educational program and take an oath during a formal ceremony. The Armenian Youth Federation Western United States serves Armenian American communities west of the Mississippi through education–athletics–political activism–cultural activities and social settings. To learn more about the AYF please log on to www.ayfwest.org.
Two Novices Reflect on Their Road from Badanees to AYF
By Nora Injeyan
I had been waiting for what seemed to be forever to go to AYF camp–take my oath–and pass the ran’s from badanees to AYF. When the weekend began–Unger Karnig Sarkissian was our director and all seemed good. However–we were met with the most horrific–arduous task that could ever be asked of a novice–a task that would make some of the weaker novices have second thoughts of whether or not they were willing to join this organization: complete an entire mock general meeting. It seemed as if it would not end–but when the meeting was over–everyone was much more confident that they could enter the meeting and could keep up with the best of them. That night–I was privileged to be given the responsibility of being "bahag" to help protect the camp from bears. All I have to say is that the flashlight was not turned off once that entire night and that they could not have picked a "bahag" who was more terrified of her own shadow.
As we were waiting in anticipation to take our AYF oath–the next part of the weekend was our "personal oath." This was my favorite part of the weekend and I don’t think many people would disagree. Everyone stood up and told their fellow ungers why they were joining AYF and what promises they would keep to themselves once they were members. I had never been more convinced that the future of the AYF is well taken care of then when I was in that room listening to my fellow ungers. Many people were either on the verge of tears or already there. There was so much emotion put into every word uttered that could not have been faked or duplicated. Every single person was serious about joining AYF and doing everything they possibly could to aid the everlasting struggle for a free–independent and united Armenia. It was one of the greatest things I had ever experienced as a novice and as an Armenian and there is no way I could put all the emotion I felt into words on a piece of paper.
Finally–it was time to take our oath. It did not seem like it was happening–but it did. I was ecstatic; everyone was just going around saying congratulations and hugging. We were just so happy that we were officially "AYF-AGANS!"
That night–after all the dancing–eating–and chilling camp stories–we gathered round the camp fire and sang "heghapokhagan" songs. From "Kini Lits" to "Revolution," to "Kezi Harkank" and to "Name That Tune," courtesy of Unger Karnig–we sang them all.
And then–just like that our weekend was over. It happened way too quickly and after saying goodbye to all the new ungers–we headed home with a new found respect for each other and the organization.
Now–for all my new ayf-agan ungers–lousapanagan harts–ter gam tem to that weekend? I SAY TER!
By Sanan Shirinian
After being an ARF badanee for 5 years–it is only natural to move on to the AYF ran’s when I turned 16. However–one cannot be a member overnight. I took the necessary educationals–studied hard for the test–and thankfully passed. The last step was to attend the Novice camp and take my oath. This was–of course–my favorite part of the entire process.
I expected camp to be like the hundreds of other camps I’ve been too–but Novice camp was so much more than that–it was 3 days of transformation. We arrived late Friday night and went for a hike. We stopped at a familiar location and stood in a circle. Each one of us got to say why we wanted to join AYF. Standing there in the darkness of the woods–listening to everyone’s voice as they spoke–I realized that these people and I have a future together.
On Saturday–we had a discussion about what we think AYF should be doing in 5 to 10 years. All of us struggled to answer that question–and since we were the kids that would be deciding the future of AYF in the following years–it was a little scary not having a solid answer. Fortunately–ideas were slowly brought up and discussed. There was even a heated debate between a fellow Novice and myself. This discussion made me realize that there is always going to be disagreemen’s within the organization; however–we have to compromise because at the end of the day we are all still ungers.
Before giving our oath that night–an older unger gave us a few inspirational words. He said that love is the strongest human emotion–and without love–we cannot accomplish anything to its fullest. If we have love for this organization–and all of the work it carries out–then we can truly commit to it. Even though we might not all agree with everything AYF does–we do not give up on it–and we do not turn our backs to it–because we have love for it as a whole. As I listened to this unger speak–I could not help the smile on my face because I knew that that night was going to be the beginning of something that will affect my life completely.
Finally–the time had come. All the novices were on one side of the campfire–and the AYF-agans were on the other side. Our godfather–Raffi Hamparian–read us the oath–and we repeated it. As we promised aloud to abide by the bylaws and to be loyal members of the organization–I felt heaviness in the air. I saw the older ungers nodding and welcoming us to the club. It was a surreal moment. I felt proud and incredibly lucky. The executive members stepped on our side of the campfire and placed necklaces on our necks–and one by one hugged and congratulated us. This 10 minutes of my life seemed to have been in slow motion. I enjoyed every second of it. In all honesty–I still can’t comprehend the fact that I am part of the greatest organization in the world. I am a newborn of the greatest family in the world. That night–all of us sat around the campfire.
From newly transferred members–to executives–to CC representatives–we sat together and sang in unison. It was an image that I will never forget. And as we all sat there singing together–fighting for the same cause–having a same goal–I realized it was going to be a great 10 years.