AYF-YOARF Junior Seminar 2015: ‘Look Forward, Move Forward’

Memorial Day weekend is meant to be a time to honor those who served in America’s armed forces (though for most it’s a long weekend to barbeque poolside and sleep in). For generations of Armenians across the East Coast, Memorial Day weekend is something different. We often relate it to 15-hour bus rides to a campground in the middle of nowhere, where the stars seem closer and our friends from across the region are only a cabin away. A weekend where our phones are set aside, our dining is scheduled, and squeezing in a few spare minutes to shower is our greatest concern. This may sound strange for those of you who have not attended an AYF Junior Seminar before, but there’s nothing better than your bus, filled to capacity and candy wrappers, rolling through the driveway at Camp Lutherlyn with your friends from far-away chapters just outside and the Junior Seminar Committee ready to welcome you with a folder of what lies in store for the weekend.

AYF members take a group photo with Catholicos Aram I and his delegation 

This Memorial Day weekend, more than 360 Juniors, Seniors, alumni, and lecturers came together for the 44th annual AYF-YOARF Junior Seminar themed “Նայինք Յառաջ, Քալենք Յառաջ: Look forward, move forward.” With an excellent panel of lecturers ranging from our very own alumni to filmmakers and special guests from the Holy See, our days consisted of riveting lectures and discussions that could go on for hours, divided by field games or a few rounds of “Euzun Esheg” where the brave participated and the smart enjoyed a freeze pop under the sun.


Tamar Kanarian: Armenian Identity/Now What?
Josh Tevekelian: Leaders in Training Program
Ara Sarajian, Nairi Khachatourian, Carnie Armenian: Centennial Recap
Zohrab Khaligian: The ARF Today
Steve Mesrobian: The ANCA
Sahak Zakarian: Javakhk
Phil Nigon: Taking the Initiative
Stephanie Ayanyan: A New Armenia
His Holiness Vehapar Aram I: Q&A Session

It seems that our Junior Seminars get more exciting each year.

For some it may have been making their mark on the “#NeverForget1915” banner with well over 3,000 signatures. For others, finally having their chance to ride a golf cart or raise the flag singing our anthem. And for many it may have been the Q&A session or taking a selfie with His Holiness Vehapar Aram I.

Josh Tevekelian runs the Leaders in Training Program 

Our evenings, on the other hand, were more competitive: The night activities consisted of a talent show of our traditional music and dances, where each chapter’s performances were choreographed in detail and more exciting than the next; and Armenian trivia and scavenger hunts where Juniors were greeted by a mock Etchmiadzin service or jumped at answering questions earning points for their team.

Catholicos Aram I blesses the Armenian tricolor 

Of course, Seminar would not be complete if it weren’t for more than 300 campers participating in a massive shourchbar followed by revolutionary songs standing arm in arm.

The range of lectures and activities at AYF Junior Seminar this year were more than ample to keep everyone engaged throughout the weekend, not wanting one activity to end but looking forward to the next. I’m sure if it weren’t for the need for fresh laundry, we would have refused getting on the busses Monday morning, hoping to stay longer.

Generations of AYF-ers can vouch that when the youth of our community come together for the Armenian Cause we accomplish what cannot be put in to words. We are not only revitalized as individuals but empowered as an organization.

Those of you who have had the opportunity to experience this, to be a part of something greater, know the potential that being involved in our community holds. Our youth are our next generation of modern-day leaders. The next Dro, Sosse Mayrig, and Papken Suini lies within us, within the AYF. Նայինք Յառաջ, Քալենք Յառաջ.

A scene from the flag raising ceremony 

Catholicos Aram I signs the #neverforget1915 banner 

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Source: Weekly
Link: AYF-YOARF Junior Seminar 2015: ‘Look Forward, Move Forward’

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