When the planning began for this year’s Junior Seminar, I was initially relieved that I wasn’t going to be lecturing. Last year, I gave a lecture on the impact of social media, speaking about our PR efforts for the Genocide Centennial. It was a wonderful experience, but I felt that I didn’t get to fully take in the weekend as a member. This was my last year as an AYF member attending Seminar and aside from the traditional responsibilities that the Central Executive had, I was looking forward to some down time throughout the weekend and making sure I heard from all of the weekend’s lecturers.
Along the way, with some schedule shuffling, the organizing committee asked Kenar Charchaflian and myself to lecture. As the two of us have a background in sports, we discussed Armenian athletes and their ties to the Armenian Diaspora. Stories ranged from professional athletes tweeting #TurkeyFailed, to why coach Bill Belichick represented Armenia at the White House, to a young gymnast representing Armenia at the Rio games this summer. I was even lucky enough to share a personal story of meeting Major League Baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian in Washington, D.C. We met at Nationals Park and talked about dolma and our family’s stories of how they came to America. The amazing part was that each athlete had a special story that was traced back to a local Armenian community, one they were proud to be a part of and represent. This really tied in well with the weekend’s theme, “Success Lies with Our Collective Power.”
This was the highest attended Junior Seminar in recent memory and the committee did a phenomenal job. The AYF Juniors were able to hear great lecturers speak on a variety of topics, including on the Syrian-Armenian community, progressive Armenian politics, the Armenian Diaspora and the role of AYF members, the 2016 presidential elections, Camp Armen, Camp Javakhk, and the history of the AYF. We were also lucky enough to have Lernik Hovhannisyan, the deputy to the NKR National Assembly, as a speaker. Hovhannisyan had traveled from Artsakh and provided the entire camp with an update regarding the current situation with Azerbaijan. He was also able to take in the entire weekend and spend time with our youth, something I think everyone enjoyed.
The Saturday of Seminar was May 28th. The Saturday night activity highlighted a speech from Hovhannisyan, discussing the significance of this date in Armenian history. He explained the importance of the Battle of Sardarabad and why our youth should take pride in this event. The evening ended with the entire camp singing “Sardarabad.” Sunday was a special day, one where the AYF-YOARF membership was introduced to our newest members. We welcomed a group from the newly formed Florida “Arev” Chapter, who took their oaths during the final flag lowering. The entire camp cheered and welcomed our new ungers with open arms. We then headed to Rice Hall where the entire camp danced the night away while the AYF band played Armenian songs.
One personal highlight of the weekend was seeing my former campers turned counselors. They led our new Juniors and were positive role models. I was extremely impressed with their work and am proud that they will be leading our organization into the future. I can’t wait to see what the organizing committee will have planned for next year. One thing is certain: that every Memorial Day Weekend, there’s no place else I’d rather be.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West