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As a Diasporan Armenian college student, I’ve often considered the role I could play in affecting change in Hayastan. I felt powerless for a long time–without a way to bridge the gap of 6,000 miles. Ayo! offered me a way to bridge this gap, to engage in small ways and big ways– and thus, Ayo! is one of the most important initiatives I’ve ever engaged in.
In 2015, Birthright Armenia gave me the opportunity to immerse myself into my culture, and Ayo! gave me a way to prove my passion and commitment. Since the first week of May 2015, I’ve spent time alongside my Armenian colleagues each week, pouring my talents, emotions, and time into promoting and furthering Ayo!’s mission.
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My grandmother, Elise, fled from Beirut in 1979 with her family, including my mom, Taline, and her twin brother and her older sister, Paul and Arda. My Metz-mama dedicated her life in the United States to providing opportunities and guidance for her children, allowing them to realize their own goals and passions, and in turn start families of their own. Because of the selflessness and wisdom of my grandmother, my mom, my Uncle Paul, and my Aunt Arda were better able to provide opportunities and resources for my cousin and I growing up.
In many ways, one Armenian woman’s bravery and integrity made all the difference in my life, and I know no other way to thank her than to show her through my actions the power of her sacrifices. I pour my heart into Ayo! because I believe our mission aligns with her integrity and sacrifice. I feel I must pay forward her legacy of love to those in Hayastan, with the hope that they will keep her fire burning bright and pass it forward themselves. Though I am merely a ‘college-kid,’ I can make a difference and I will join with those around me to build a better future for Hayastan.
To my fellow Diasporan-Armenian youth: we are Armenian. We stand behind a legacy of love and bravery. The future of Armenia is in our hands, and we must carry the legacy of our grandparents forth and pass it on to those ahead of us. Will you join us?