After years of participating in youth seminars, attending Saturday school, sitting through Sunday church services and hearing my Medzmama’s countless stories in broken English, I finally had the opportunity this summer to visit the country I’ve felt a deep connection to since before I can remember. On the plane ride to Armenia, I felt giddy with expectations. At eighteen, I felt too old to be visiting for the first time; all of my other friends having already visited and feeling that deep connection to our homeland. Finally, I now had the opportunity to go to Armenia and Javakhk to work with the underprivileged children there.
Working with the children of Javakhk was, indeed, a rewarding experience. During that time, I worked harder than I’d ever worked before—working with the children, speaking with the parents, deciphering the dialect differences between my Armenian and theirs. I took pictures, cut out masks, taught songs, practiced dances, and fed twenty-eight mouths for a week and a half. I learned about rotting teeth, the lack of hygiene, and only having a few pieces of clothing. I also learned that “waiting in line” was an impossible concept to teach.
My experience in Javakhk is an experience I will never forget for countless reasons. But mostly because of the children that touched my lives and the AYF experience of a lifetime.