Racine, New Jersey and Greater Boston host 2023 ACE Weekend and AYF Junior Conferences

Mid-Atlantic ACE weekend participants

From October 20-22, Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Junior members took part in their respective regions’ Armenian Cultural Educational (ACE) weekend and Junior conferences. The weekend was hosted in the Midwest by the Racine “Armen Garo” Chapter, in the Mid-Atlantic region by the New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter, and in the New England region by the Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter. 

ACE is an annual weekend where Junior members have the opportunity to participate in a variety of Armenian educationals and activities to form a strong connection with their Armenian culture. Educationals and activities range between dancing, language, cooking and other valuable aspects of Armenian heritage and tradition.

The weekend started with lectures discussing Armenian traditions throughout Armenia and the region. Arev Kaligian, Vartenie Kachichian and Holly Khaligian led a baking activity, during which Juniors learned how to prepare choreg, a well-known Armenian sweet bread, and kekhke, delicious pastry.

While waiting for the bread to rise and bake, Juniors spent time learning about the Armenian language. They learned the meaning of a revolutionary song and how to sing it. Juniors in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions learned “Lerner Hayreni” from lecturers Shant Keshishian and Ani Khachatourian, while Juniors in the Midwest region learned “Arunod Trosh” from lecturer Nora Fronjian. 

The ungers then played games of Telestrations, but in Armenian, which was put together by the AYF Eastern Region’s Central Language Council. 

Following the language activities, the Juniors were treated to the choreg they had made earlier in the day along with lunch. For the final portion of ACE weekend, juniors spent time embracing Armenian music and art. The afternoon kicked off with an educational about Armenian art and how it can be used as a form of activism. The participants also spent time learning about different instruments. As the final activity of ACE weekend, the Juniors learned traditional dances from Armenia and Artsakh. 

To end the day, Juniors hosted region-wide conferences, where participants from each chapter in attendance briefed their fellow members about how their chapter’s year had gone. They also learned how AYF convention works at the Senior level and had the opportunity to come up with improvements that can be made locally and region-wide for the upcoming year.

AYF Juniors offered the following reflections about ACE weekend:

“It was a great time, and I had a lot of fun with my friends.” – Christian Kindt, Chicago “Ararat” Chapter

“I thought ACE was very fun and such a great way to learn about our Armenian culture and connect doing activities related to what we learned.” – Ani Haroutunian, New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter

“It was really fun, and we had a lot of fun activities to do, and it was entertaining.” – Tsoline Papazian, Chicago “Ararat” Chapter

“I felt that the lectures and accompanying activities were so very appropriate and relevant for the current place we as a nation and people are at. It’s with this new information and drive that we can accomplish our various goals as an organization.” – Krikor Iskenderian, Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter

Founded in 1933, The Armenian Youth Federation is an international, non-profit, youth organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). The AYF-YOARF Eastern United States stands on five pillars that guide its central activities and initiatives: Educational, Hai Tahd, Social, Athletic and Cultural. The AYF also promotes a fraternal attitude of respect for ideas and individuals amongst its membership. Unity and cooperation are essential traits that allow members of the organization to work together to realize the AYF’s objectives.