BY DIKRAN KHODANIAN
From the different regions we volunteered in this summer, Proshyan stood out to me. Proshyan is a small village on the outskirts of Yerevan where the AYF has held summer camps for several years now. Here, it was apparent that kids had been coming for a second or third time and were impatiently waiting for another amazing summer with their diasporan friends. Unlike our other camp locations, Proshyan’s camp wasn’t held in a school, it took place in the local Armenian center—the agoump— and that to me made the key difference.
Growing up as an AYF Junior and a member of my local AYF “Sardarabad” chapter, our agoump was our special place. Our agoump was the place that felt like a second home; a place where we feel comfortable being with our friends and spending time with all of our ungers. I strongly feel that an agoump is a vital part of any of our communities around the world, bringing people together both young and old, in a safe, welcoming, and spirited environment.
Currently, the agoump in Proshyan is going through some much needed renovation and reconstruction, spearheaded by Sosé & Allen’s Legacy Foundation. The work began in May and is partially completed, but there is plenty of work left to serve the needs of this tight knit community, especially the kids.
What can I say about Proshyan? It’s a place that has been through a lot of turmoil recently, with the assassination of the respected Artsakh-veteran Mayor Hratch Muradyan, but it’s also a place with a lot of heart and a lot of resilience. I got attached from day one. I really saw the impact on kids there and the smiles on their faces through the two weeks we spent with them. From arts and crafts, to games and sports, to lectures and discussions, I truly felt that I was working hands-on with the future leaders of my homeland. The bonds we created will be life-long and they will only be strengthened by the activities and programs these kids get to have at the agoump long after we leave.
I’m glad the Legacy Foundation is investing its efforts to bring new life to the Proshyan agoump for the local children and for diasporans youth like us to have our own second home. These kids deserve an agoump to grow up in, like the one I had; a place where youth can learn about our culture, history, and make lifelong friendships.
Reconstructing this building will give a spark to the community, giving the new generation of Proshyan more opportunities will give a spark to our entire nation.
Dikran Khodanian spent the summer in Armenia volunteering with AYF Youth Corps. He is one of 4 recipients of the 2014 Sosé & Allen’s Foundation Youth Corps Fellowship.