Zavagnern enk Artsakhi—We Are the Children of Artsakh
BY NANOR BOZOYAN
AYF Youth Corps participant
It all suddenly made sense the second I stepped foot into the “Tiv Yergoo” elementary school on Monday morning for the very first time. All the kind words, helpful advice, and built-up excitement given to me by previous Youth Corps members and group leaders began to come alive as we began our camp in Stepanakert. The kids’ consistent enthusiasm, forward and impatient introductions, and humble personalities left a great first impression upon me, of how amazing the next few weeks of my life are to be. My now sore limbs and heavy eyelids suddenly all became worthwhile, upon seeing the excitement in these kids’ eyes. I will probably never forget my first impression of the eight year old boy who suddenly decided to point to me and began shouting to me his intricate riddles in hopes to outsmart me. After really thinking long and hard (no, honestly I really tried) he told me his brilliant answers, and from then on he became my sidekick/best friend. Of course, I was rest assured it was meant to be, because upon splitting up into color groups for competitions, he was the first to be called into my group.
Our first order of business was to create distinct and original chants for our groups. I now find myself barely able to get a word in, between all the amazing suggestions of rhymes with such powerful meanings, that I really had to take a step back and thought about the meanings behind these chants. Not only did I realize how strongly these kids feel about their country and their people, I also realized that if by any chance Artsakh’s cease-fire were to turn into any sort of war, these children are our future front-line soldiers, nurses or doctors, political leaders, etc. Every drop of blood in their body truly bleeds for their tiny bit of land they can proudly call their own. This characteristic rooted within the core of each and every child, truly was an eye-opening experience to me because after a heavy first week in Yerevan, I was a bit shaken up. After seeing various martyred soldier’s tombs, having encounters with precious loved ones of these soldiers, and even just being in an environment where you wake up to see Mt. Ararat standing so stern and close to the city and yet so far away from our reach, truly struck home. Coming to Artsakh and interacting with these kids really gave me a sense of hope and enlightenment, that the sacrifice of our beloved soldiers brought such an inspirational effect to the future generation of the Armenian race, particularly within the homeland.
Now, only four days into meeting these children on the very first day of camp, I sit in the open playground with three little girls braiding my hair while singing Armenian patriotic songs, and a little boy frantically expressing to me his disappointment for the heartbreaking loss in the game of “steal the bacon”, all while trying to find a moment to spare to write this blog. Within this short period of time, I have realized really how large of an impact our camp makes on these children. I cannot take three steps on the campground without having a little girl come hold my hand. I have kids begging and pleading for the hours and number of days of the camp to be extended. I have already been thoroughly interrogated about next summer’s plans to come back to Kharapakh for camp; just to give a few examples.
I feel as if a part of me has been stowed away inside all of this time as I spend my days staying contsantly determined to understand the beyond difficult Karabaghtsi dialect (still working on it!), run our beloved camp with fellow Karabaghtsi AYF members, rewarding myself on the walk back home from camp with some Grand Candy “marojhni,” as well as making my home with my amazing Youth Corps group members in our lovely Babo’s home-stay, along with her family, a Sooryatsi businesssman, an out-of-the-truck meat salesman with his “Kikor” apprentice, as well as a handsome team of eight year-old soccer players with their trainer. (Yes, we all share one bathroom.)
Against all differences, setbacks, or discomforts I have come across thus far, I can honestly say that I wake up every morning facing a new adventure and every moment is one to look forward to. I am truly grateful for this experience, and most definitely look forward to making a difference here at Karabakh and later in Gyumri as well.
But until then, enjoy some of my personal favorite chants from the best BLUE group in the history of forever!
“Zavagnern enk Artsakhi,
Oonenk hastat tsurakir,
Hye Tadi ganonakir,
Knaloo enk menk Javakhk,
Himneloo enk medz panag,
Getseh hbard Javakhtsin,
Kordz chi himar Vratsin.”
“Mardooni oo Martagerd,
Knank Shooshi kef anenk,
Jengelov hats oo tuti arakh,
Parov yegak mer Karabakh.”