BY VANA BASHIAN
Waking up to a group of enthusiastic badanees chanting «ՀՅԴ» outside of our Gyumri home will never get old. Hearing our campers’ excitement for the upcoming day of camp filled me with gratification as I truly start to see how profoundly our work here impacts their lives. Drawing back the curtains and waving down to their enlivened faces prepared me for the day, no matter how tired I may have felt. Perhaps it is what I’ll miss the most.
After our walks to camp with my new ungers, I am always surprised to see how eager all the children are to line up in their red, blue, and orange color groups and do their morning exercises as instructed. Their receptiveness to instruction further shows me how excited they are to be here to learn, play, and grow with us. I rejoice in the happiness of my female campers as I let them braid my hair in any style they want, and enjoy my free hairdo for the rest of the day. The campers’ energy during all activities outmatches anything we have ever seen before and spreads to us like an electric shock, resuscitating us from the dullness of our lives before meeting them; a sort of anecdote for our revival.
Revival seems to be a theme for jampar, as our educationals aim to revive the spirit of Tashnagtsoutioun in our badanees. Teaching them about heroes like Kristapor Mikaelian, Stepan (Rostom) Zoryan and Simon Zavarian and feeling their genuine interest in their history is extremely inspiring. I can name nothing more magnificent than a room full of Armenians singing songs of our survival and strength together, an emotional experience that I will remember from this day until my last.
Even more, I’ll remember the unadulterated love these children have gifted to me as I attempt to step into their lives. Never have I been greeted with more open arms and never have I been showered in more hugs and kisses, which speaks volumes for a person coming from an Armenian home – the Armenian home that planted a love for my motherland in me, allowing me to finally return and water the seed.
I write this now as my ungers sleep around me, resting in preparation for another day with our Gyumri family tomorrow. I look forward to the «ՀՅԴ» chanting waiting for us tomorrow morning, the powerful ringing from the bells of Tashnagtsoutioun.