BY ANI GARIBYAN
Varich: AYF Burbank Gaidzag Juniors
For many years, as an AYF junior and AYF member, I’ve attended many song nights where we sing about our heroes, our struggles, our victories. At the time, we looked forward to song night mainly because we would have the chance to hang out with friends and make new ones. The singing was just part of the package.
On July 31, 2015, the AYF Burbank Gaidzag Juniors chapter with the support of the ARF Burbank Nigol Aghpalian Gomide hosted a song night at the Burbank Beshir Mardirossian Youth Center Liberty Hall, attracting over 120 AYF Juniors from various chapters throughout Los Angeles County. The song night was led by singers Tro Krikorian and Raffi Badoyan.
Tro Krikorian took us through time, from the 1800’s to today, explaining each song he sang. “Try to understand and read the lyrics,” said Krikorian to the juniors. “Every song is a history lesson, a glimpse into the past,” he added. With each song, the juniors were asked what they knew about the song, and what it meant to them. Their thoughts illustrated to me how incredibly informed and knowledgeable these kids are; just imagine how much more they’ll know in a year, five years, and 25 years, and what they’re capable of doing with that knowledge.
As Raffi Badoyan took the stage, the lights dimmed and the music began to blast, and once the melody to “Aghpers ou Yes” started to play, the juniors went closer to the stage, sat on the floor and sang every single lyric. Towards the end of the night, Badoyan encouraged members to come up and sing songs themselves. First up was Ungeruhi Araz Arabian of the North Valley chapter, and then they kept coming, each member singing their favorite songs. As Arabian was about to leave, she came up to me and said, “I wanted to sing Komitas but wasn’t sure if I should.” Komitas, from a young Armenian Diasporan…
As a varich, sitting towards the end of the hall, watching these subtle additions to song night take place, made me appreciate the event more than I did when I was an AYF member. From the way they cheered on their fellow ungerner to sing solos, to their discussions about the songs, to their willingness to help clean-up. It’s amazing and humbling to witness this, yet it was not surprising. The AYF family has always been this way. We’ve always cared for one another in a way that is difficult to explain. We’ve grown up under varichner that we’ve looked up to. And today, it is evident that we’re all doing something right because this generation of juniors, the generation that will become great AYF members, extremely intelligent human beings, fathers, mothers, successful in their careers, has already proven, by one mere song night, that they’re already above and beyond what we expected them to be.