Inaugural Alumni Weekend Reunites the Generations
BY GAIANEH AVANESSIAN
WRIGHTWOOD, Calif.—More than 60 alumni from the Armenian Youth Federation joined with 25 current members of the organization to reflect on the past and plan for the future during the AYF’s inaugural Alumni Weekend at AYF Camp.
The event, held on the weekend of August 27-28, was organized by the Alumni Central Council, whose primary goal is to foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the AYF and its alumni.
“The purpose of the event was to reconnect AYF alumni of different generations to current AYF members and their work,” said AYF alumnus and organizing committee member Tamar Baboujian. “The weekend exceeded our expectations, and offered a genuine opportunity for alumni to relive their AYF days, share ideas and support the organization’s ongoing work.”
Following AYF Camp tradition, the weekend began with the raising of the Armenian flag and opening remarks by the director of the weekend, Aram Kaloustian. The participants were then broken into red, blue, orange color groups where they were pinned against each other in a series of friendly competitions.
The first competition was a scavenger hunt, featuring riddles about AYF, Armenian, and Camp history. The team who solved all 10 riddles and arrived at the final destination first became the winner. There was just enough time afterwards for an impromptu game of Steal the Bacon. The game was nostalgic for the alumni reminding them of a time where they would run around the campground with reckless abandon.
Undeniably, the Mock Convention portion of the weekend was the highlight, with participants sitting down in a legislative meeting to hear about the state of the organization and discuss ways to improve relations with alumni. A special tivan and a resolutions committee was appointed, consisting of both current members and alumni. A formal video presentation on the year’s activities was also presented by AYF Central Executive Chair, Arek Santikian, who then took questions from the floor and participated in the discussion.
A lively exchange took place on such topics as expanding the Alumni Association and carrying on the AYF’s mission into the future. Ideas such as creating a mentorship program where alumni would help secure internships for youth to further their career aspirations were also proposed. The main ideas were drafted into formal resolutions and approved by the assembly. They will be officially submitted to the AYF’s Annual Convention taking place later this month.
“Helping AYF members with internships is a great idea”, says Crescenta Valley Zartonk member Christina Der Sarkissian. “We should take advantage of the alumna’s professional skills and bridge the generation gap to strengthen the organization”.
Throughout the weekend, AYF members of different generations were given the opportunity to interact and bond. The weekend served as a means to connect lifelong friends who throughout the years have passed the ranks of the AYF. The celebration held on Saturday night consisted of members young and old eating traditional Armenian food, dancing to live classical Armenian melodies, and singing revolutionary songs.
“The energy level was extremely high and the spirit of the event was outstanding,” noted alumnus Stepan Altounian.
The Alumni Weekend is only the start of efforts directed at reengaging AYF alumni with the current members activities of the AYF. Altounian added, “Once an AYF member, always an AYF member”.
In the spirit of involving alumni with the AYF’s current initiatives in the Diaspora and Homeland, the Alumni weekend also served as a fundraiser for purchasing three new computers for the Armenian Youth Federation chapter in Stepanakert, Artsakh.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.