BY VARAK GHAZARIAN
After a long day of tirelessly running around camp to ensure that the wonderful children of Askeran were having the best summer of their lives, we finally had a chance to take a break while debriefing the past day. After our meeting, we sat in our overloaded van and expected an expedient ride back to our apartment. But wait. Surprise. Unger Armen from Stepanakert and our Pack Leader Tereza had other plans for us. A wrong turn led to a stir of confusion amongst the counselors and caused a ruckus within the van. After a thirty minute-long, windy ride up the side of mountain, we pulled up to a gate. We were led out of the van, and there it stood. The beautiful Jdrduz.
As we stood atop the cliffs of Jdrduz, all that we counselors could do was quietly watch in amazement as the river below us rushed through the valley. Everything seemed surreal as we stood there, captivated by the beauty Artsakh had to offer. We then took turns yelling into the canyon and released everything within us. After cleansing our bodies from all the stress we incurred throughout the long day of camp, we started a fire in preparation for the once-in-a-lifetime kef opportunity. We all waited for the sun to set as Unger Armen prepped the samovar he had been promising us for the past several days. With the sunlight dimming by every passing second, Jdrduz Valley sparkled in a majestic way I hadn’t seen in my life. The glimmer of the river, the luscious greenery, the orange and purple sky, the smell of the burning wood, and the beautiful people surrounding me left me in a state of amazement.
Watching the sunset with my Ungers, from both Youth Corps and Artsakh, allowed me to truly appreciate how thankful I am to be given the opportunity to be here and to feel at home with a family I have just recently created. I am even more thankful to provide the youth of Artsakh with, not only a summer they won’t forget, but also the hope to pursue their wildest dreams with no fear or any sort of reservations. Speaking with the campers about their interests and goals for, both, themselves and Artsakh has given me a different perspective on my life and my perspective of Artsakh. Hearing the campers speak about how they enjoy the natural beauty of the nation they live in, yet have their views of home muddled by the thought and reality of war, truly disheartened me. A nation filled with so much beauty and potential constantly being stricken down by the concept and reality of war brings to light the stark differences between my Artsakhtsi Ungers and me. However, in that moment, the only thing I could think about was the joy and happiness of my campers. In the midst of an unknown future we can rely on the youth to provide us with a sense of happiness and hope for a better day.