Forty Years of Success and Memories Shared at Armenian Youth Federation of Australia Reunion

By | Saturday, 24 August 2019

SYDNEY: The Armenian Youth Federation of Australia (AYF-AU) held its 40
th anniversary reunion with over 150 former members of the organisation participating in a cocktail walk down memory lane at Galstaun College’s Nalbandian Hall on the 10th of August 2019.

AYF-AU was established in 1979 after a visit by Unger Papken Papazian, and now has three senior chapters and three junior (badani) chapters, having contributed to the lives of hundreds of Armenian-Australians for four decades.

This was on show at the reunion, where AYF-AU Alumni Nerses Baliozian and Hagop Boghossian managed proceedings as the very entertaining Masters of Ceremonies.

The formal address of the AYF-AU Central Executive was delivered by Chair Unger Aram Tufenkjian, while ARF-AU Central Committee Vice-Chair Unger Ara Megerditchian delivered his organisation’s remarks of congratulations.

“Throughout our 40 years, the AYF has always been the grassroots organisation to organise political demonstrations,” Tufenkjian said. “We have been the organisers of the protests on Armenian Genocide anniversaries, to ensure our calls for justice heard from faraway Australia, from Sydney, Canberra, Martin Place, Pitt Street - anywhere to raise awareness and call for justice for the Armenian Genocide.”

“The AYF also took action when the people of Artsakh deserved the right to self-determination. The AYF held a 48 hour hunger strike in front of the Russian embassy in 1989 and led a community protest shortly afterwards, the AYF organised a protest in Canberra after Azeri aggression led to a four-day war in 2016, and also ran its own ‘Artsakh Awareness Week’ program aimed at educating the wider Australian population about Artsakh and its right to self-determination.”

“During the attack on the Armenian populated town of Kessab, the AYF stood up again organising a protest and fundraiser for those in need.”

“The AYF was also at the forefront during one of the darkest days in Armenia’s recent history; after the earthquake in 1988, the AYF was at the front of the community wide appeal to collect clothes to be sent to Armenia as aid.”

Tufenkjian also touched on the parts that haven’t “always been serious”.

“The best part of the AYF is that we always knew when to have fun,” he added. “There’s been camps at Castle Mountain, Katoomba, Bulgaria, Armenia and recently Boston and LA. I am sure you would all agree that many of your best memories and not just necessarily during your time in the AYF but in your life have been at AYF camps. Each generation will have their own stories and memories of their AYF camps that they will always talk about when they come together.”

Special applause was reserved when Tufenkjian presented the unmatched success of the AYF-AU Youth Corps Program, which takes place in Armenia and Artsakh every two years.

“In 2016 and 2018 the AYF took 30 members to Armenia and Artsakh to run day camps for the local children,” he said. “This created an unforgettable bond between Armenia and Australia, a bond that still exists between the campers and the counsellors even though now we are so far apart.”

“These ‘Jampars’ (camps) will hold a special part in all the participants lives and one they will never forget. The early morning walks to the Nor Nork Agoomp, the smiles on the children’s faces when they see you, the sheer frustration trying to control 40 kids at a time, and the teary goodbyes after you realise just how much the program is for your own personal growth and not just for the children.”

AYF-AU Alumni in attendance were given opportunities to share their own past experiences, and these included former members crossing in with overseas video calls.

The event also remembered all Alumni who are sadly no longer.

The Nalbandian Hall was decorated with memories of AYF-AU’s  40 years of service, with photos from past camps, snow trips, protests, trips to Armenia as well as old t-shirts and calendars.

The AYF-AU Central Executive concluded the evening by thanking all in attendance, all supporters of the AYF-AU, and especially thank the reunion organising committee.