Washington, D.C. marks AYF 90th anniversary with a focus on service to community and homeland

A multi-generational packed house at the AYF 90th anniversary program held on December 9 at the Soorp Khatch Armenian Church Arabian Hall

WASHINGTON—The Armenian Youth Federation – Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (AYF) Washington, D.C. “Ani” Senior and “Sevan” Junior chapters rallied support for Artsakh’s forcibly displaced Armenian population at the “Service to the Community and Homeland” event marking the 90th anniversary of the hallowed youth organization.

AYF D.C. “Ani” Chapter “Service to Community and Homeland” emcee Nayiri Shahnazarian

“Ninety years ago, the ARF leadership in North America invited General Karekin Njdeh to travel to communities across the United States and Canada with a mission—to inspire Armenian youth to organize a powerful force for Armenian freedom. A force—built on the pillars of education, Hai Tahd, culture, athletics and socials—which would become a worldwide youth movement building toward the ultimate goal of a free, independent, united Armenia,” stated AYF “Ani” Chair Nayiri Shahnazarian, who guided attendees through an evening of empowering stories of youth activism locally and in the Armenian homeland.

Tsoghig Hekimian offers an alumni perspective on the AYF’s youth empowerment programs

Held on Saturday, December 9, at Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church Arabian Hall, AYF alumni and current members offered anecdotes of their time in the organization. They regaled attendees with how their participation in the AYF Internship and Homenetmen Jamboree—both in Armenia this past summer—and local activities educated them and motivated expanded community service initiatives.

Offering an alumni perspective, Tsoghig Hekimian shared stories of university activism to ensure proper representation of the Armenian Genocide at Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance and how the AYF has served as the foundation to her ongoing service to the ARF, Armenian Relief Society and the Armenian National Committee of America.

AYF “Sevan” Chapter member Alek Tekeyan offered a powerful presentation of Vazgen Ovyan’s “Այս Ղարաբաղն է” (This is Karabakh), after which Maria Stepanyan led attendees in singing “Zartir Lao” while her brother Sevak accompanied on guitar. AYF “Sevan” Junior Chapter chair Karine Najarian and secretary Meghri Aguilian offered an update on an impressive array of junior chapter accomplishments in 2023. A moving presentation on the 2023 Homenetmen Jamboree in Armenia was offered by Mary Markarian, Meghri Aguilian and Sebouh Kassardjian.  Attendees delighted in the musical talents of Alexandra and Lilia Yaralian, who enthralled with their playing of the kanun

AYF D.C. “Ani” Senior Chris Huth discusses how the AYF Summer Internship in Armenia further connected him to the Armenian homeland

The evening concluded with Chris Huth’s overview of his unforgettable moments of connecting to the homeland and cause through the AYF Internship in Armenia and Sune Hamparian’s life-changing summer of service interning with international human rights lawyer Siranush Sahakyan in Yerevan in the ongoing international campaign to secure justice for Armenian POWs and political prisoners held illegally by Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan’s genocidal ethnic cleansing of Artsakh’s indigenous Armenian population, coupled with the corrupt Aliyev regime’s ongoing occupation of sovereign Armenian land and illegal detention of Armenian POWs and political prisoners, prompted Washington AYF supporters to donate over $2,000 to assist Artsakh refugees, bringing the local AYF chapter closer to honoring its annual commitment to raise $10,000 for Artsakh youth-related projects. To support the AYF “Ani” Chapter’s Artsakh-related programs, visit https://givebutter.com/dcani and put “Anniversary Dinner for Artsakh” in the comments.

A special thank you to our AYF “Ani” Seniors and “Sevan” Juniors who served the evening’s delicious buffet dinner catered by Vache Abkarian and his family-owned Sasun’s Cafe

Additional video from the AYF “Service to Community and Homeland” event will be posted to the D.C. chapter’s social media channels.

Anie Shahnazarian grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and is currently a member of the AYF-YOARF Greater Washington, DC "Ani" Chapter. She began working as a statistician at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services after the completion of her statistics and English literature degrees at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Additionally, she volunteers as an assistant teacher at the local Baltimore Armenian School.