BY TALIA OUGHOURLIAN
“A life changing experience” was how a Youth Corps alumnus described the impact of AYF’s summer program to me. Although the simple phrase is often overused and exaggerated, I absolutely believed him. From his sincere expression and distinct change in demeanor, I realized the program was extraordinary and that was the moment I decided to become a part of it.
One year later, I am anxiously packing for my trip to Armenia. Like many Armenian youth in the Diaspora, I have never been to Armenia and have no concrete ties to my homeland. Yet, I owe a great deal to Armenia. This country has given me an identity, family, and character all rooted in its rich culture and tumultuous history. I am grateful for this opportunity to establish meaningful connections to my homeland, and I am eager to build relationships with the children and future of Armenia.
All I expect is an adventure, one that will make me part of a greater whole. We must seize every opportunity to grow as human beings and positively impact fellow human lives. I believe it is the leaps of faith in ourselves and others that will yield the most reward. As I eagerly await this journey, I recall another Youth Corps alumnus who told me, “Everyday I wish I could go back!” I hope to return with the same sense of fulfillment accompanied by personal growth, a greater awareness of my people, and an unwavering confidence in the future of Armenia.