Glendale—The Armenian Youth Federation-Western United States (AYF-WUS) has announced that this year’s participants for Youth Corps and Artsakh Internship summer programs have arrived in Armenia. AYF-WUS’s flagship AYF Youth Corps program and the newly launched Artsakh Internship will take place in various regions of Armenia and Artsakh, connecting young diasporan Armenians with the homeland.
The Youth Corps program has served as one of the most prominent programs of the AYF-WUS. Originally sending groups of diasporan Armenians to help rebuild Artsakh houses and structures in 1994, for over a decade the program has transitioned into running day camps in various regions. For 6 weeks, participants are able to continue Youth Corps’ long-standing tradition of giving Armenian youth an opportunity to impact the Republic of Armenia with a hands-on approach.
Through the camp experience, local children learn basic English, patriotic songs, arts and crafts, as well as about the diversity of the diaspora and tolerance for its differences. These skills are critical in helping them grow to become members of a healthy civil society. The camps accept hundreds of children every summer and provide a safe and fun environment for them to build new friendships and acquire new skills.
AYF Youth Corps Committee Co-Chair Alique Cherchian said, “The experiences of counselors in the program are memorable. Seeing Armenia and interacting with locals firsthand is an experience second to none. The success of this program, drawing in dozens of young Armenians from all over the diaspora, lies in the fact that Youth Corps reflects the true ideals of the AYF and serves its ultimate goal of a free, independent and united Armenia.”
This year’s camps will be taking place in Gyumri, Proshyan, Artik, Medz Mantaj, and Stepanakert. Furthermore, 17 participants will also be able to visit Javakhk, historical sites, and meet compatriots in Armenia and Artsakh.
The success of Youth Corps has motivated the launch of a new program to further develop ties between the homeland and diasporan youth. With the goal of professional development, the AYF Internship in Artsakh matches young Armenians with prospective internships and volunteer opportunities in fields that they choose for themselves. Sectors of work include the government, non-profit/non-governmental organizations (NGO), health and medicine, education, information technologies, agriculture and multimedia development.
This summer will be the inaugural launch of the six-week internship program. Committee Chair Emilia Der Sarkissian said, “We are very excited for the pilot program of the AYF internship in Artsakh. The program is the first of its kind. It invites diasporans to live and work in Artsakh for a summer. This summer, there will be three adventurous interns; one will work at the Ombudsman’s (Human Rights Defenders) office, one will learn about mining and the third will work in the field of sustainable development.”
Interns will be living together, and outside their internship will be provided educationals, excursions in Armenia and Artsakh, participate in forums and more. The ability for Armenian youth to simultaneously see and experience Artsakh, while also contribute to its and their own professional development is one of the many reasons the AYF-WUS has created this opportunity.
The Armenian Youth Federation’s Youth Corps program and Artsakh Internship are a testament to the fact that the youth of today are not only able but also very willing to engage with their homeland in a meaningful and substantive way. The AYF-WUS is humbled to be an integral part of nation-building for Armenian youth.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and the most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States, working to advance social, political, educational and cultural awareness among Armenian-American youth.