YOU Are My Leaders….

Saro Shirinian and his group of fellow AYF Youth Corps volunteers


When asked to serve as one of the directors of Youth Corps 2014, many thoughts ran through my mind. I was honored and thrilled, but at the same time, slightly intimidated by the idea of leading a group of young diasporans on a trip to our motherland to run a summer camp.

I got my roster of my group, “Group Red” as we called ourselves, and reviewed the names. Some names sounded familiar some names I had never heard of. What was even scarier was the fact that I knew the parents of some of the participants but not the participants themselves. It seemed like a daunting task, 1 director, 12 counselors and 180 kids. There were expectations to be met, responsibilities to follow through with, and memories to be made. Most importantly, we needed to make an impact on the lives of children and families who were impoverished and underprivileged.

Without hesitation, I accepted the position.

Upon my arrival in Yerevan, I met the young adults who were going to serve as camp counselors for the summer. They seemed to be having a lot of fun – hanging out, laughing, and bonding. As I spent more time with them in Yerevan, before we went to Gyumri , our first Jampar location, I thought to myself “how am I going to make sure these kids can run a day camp for 14 days?” and as we started talking and getting to know each other I was started to think in a more deeper level and wonder “Can I really lead these kids, or can these kids even be led?”

Never the less we get to Gyumri and completed our first day of the jampar. As we got accustomed to our daily activities and schedules, I got to spend a lot more time with the group and saw them in action. I witnessed them interacting with the children, I saw them working with each other, I saw them work for Gyumri.

From the group of 12, two of them do not speak Armenian at all, but I saw them interact with the children that proved to me that language is an obstacle that can easily be overcome if you truly want to help your homeland. I witness 12 complete strangers living together in 1 house and truly becoming friends, “ungers”, for 1 cause. It was truly inspirational to see in action the concept of “the cause is greater then our differences”.

As I sit back and write, I dedicate this blog to you. The group that I was suppose to lead, the group that I was suppose to teach, and guide. I dedicate this blog to all 12 of you who have taught me and guided me for the past 14 days. Who have taught me never to lose faith in ourselves and never to judge a book by its cover. You have instilled in me faith in all Armenians regardless if they can speak Armenian fluently or not, regardless if they can read Armenian or not. The passion I have seen in all of your eyes gives me hope and strength to go on and do what I do everything for Armenia.

And for that I am truly thankful that ALL OF YOU are my leaders.


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