This year’s 37 AYF Youth Corps participants are preparing to depart to Armenia, where they will be conducting summer camps for children in various locations across Armenia and Artsakh. Celebrating its 25th year of building bridges to the homeland, the AYF Youth Corps program will host camps in nine regions, including Gyumri, Proshyan, Artik, Stepanakert, Shushi, and others.
Among the participants are the recipients of the Sosé & Allen’s Legacy Foundation Travel Grant, which supports volunteerism in Armenia. Since 2014, the Grant has supported young people in building lasting connections to their homeland. Its goal is to ease the financial burden of volunteering in Armenia in order to allow more young women and men from the Diaspora an opportunity to experience Armenia first-hand and to contribute their skills and abilities to the betterment of our homeland.
The Sosé & Allen’s Legacy Travel Grant was established in loving memory of Armenian Youth Federation alumni Sosé Thomassian and Allen Yekikian. The dedicated couple volunteered, for years, to develop and expand the AYF Youth Corps program. They shared a strong belief in its mission—strengthening the ties between the Diaspora and Armenia by promoting meaningful participation of Diasporan youth in the nation-building process in Armenia and Artsakh.
The four recipients of the fellowship are Mariam Nerses, 19, a student at Pierce College; Naira Gourdikian, 19, a student at Cypress College; Harutyun Demirjian, 20, a student at California Polytechnic University, Pomona; and Lara Markarian, 18, a student at the University of California, Irvine.
This year also marks the first group of recipients of the Tamar Abkarian Memorial Scholarship. Established in 2018, the scholarship aims to support AYF Youth Corps participants—a program that was started in 1994 with Tamar’s vision. Tamar was one of the brave individuals who traveled to Armenia in the early 1990s to lay the foundation of the program, and she paved the way for hundreds of young Diasporans to live in, work in, and experience Armenia and Artsakh through AYF Youth Corps. At the time, working in an independent homeland seemed like a dream. But, she helped make it a reality. With her untimely passing in 2018, her family and friends established the scholarship in order to support the young people who are continuing the work Tamar started.
The recipients of the scholarship are Marinor Balouzian, 18, a student at the University of California, Berkeley; Victoria Cinquegrani, 19, a student at the University of California, Irvine; and Michelle Tervandian, 19, a student at California Polytechnic University, Pomona,
“AYF Youth Corps would not exist without Tamar’s leadership in the 1990s, and Sosé and Allen’s work in the 2000s. Future generations of participants have the ability to build on the work these three exemplary alumni put into the program, and participate in the development of Armenia,” said Talin Saklarian, chairperson of the AYF Youth Corps Committee.
Founded in 1933 with organizational structures in over 17 regions around the world and a legacy of over eighty years of community involvement, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the world, working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian youth.