As a member of the AYF, I have seen a large growth in our member numbers, chapters and our Badani numbers over the last few years which is extremely encouraging for the future; but where is the rest of the youth?
The Armenian community in Australia is constantly growing and is far greater than what it was 10-15 years ago but there are now many more Armenians, especially the younger age group that are disconnected with their community, heritage, culture and Motherland. For someone who is a part of an Armenian Youth organisation, it has always been a goal of ours to reach out to these people and try to bring them in but it seems to be getting a lot harder while social media makes the boundaries smaller.
For our community, culture and language to survive in Australia, the future leaders of this community must become more involved and start becoming a part of community organisations to take the lead in future years. This is not just a plug for young Armenians to join the AYF… The AYF isn’t suitable for everyone for a couple of reasons but there are many other groups that someone can get involved in.
There is the recently formed Armenian Student’s Association for all Armenian university students, two Hamazkaine Dance groups, Homenetmen Scouting and Sports groups, there is also the AGBU youth and the Armenian Church Youth Association (ACYA). With all these groups, a member in the community should find the group that suits them and try becoming a part of these groups.
I think there is a fear of not being accepted or the awkwardness of joining in a new group. I can only speak on behalf of the AYF but this couldn’t be any further from the truth; we welcome all our new members with open arms and give them the chance to sit in on our meetings to see if it right for them and if in the rare case it’s not then they just move on and they haven’t lost out on anything.
There is also a fear of commitment. But we are young too. We understand! We know that there are times when you need to focus on studies, work or even family commitments, from an AYF perspective we completely understand and if you speak to our members will know that we do take these things into account and appreciate all our members.
The other problem I can see is the way the groups are portrayed in the community and how they are spoken about between friendship circles. If someone does not like or does not follow the belief’s and aims of an organisation, that should not deter their friends from trying it out; some people in the community seem to be speaking negatively about these organisations in the public without even attending a meeting or speaking to a representative from that organisation to form their own view or experiencing the organisation before making an opinion.
We are the future generation, we are the ones who can make a difference. Get involved!