As the 2007 summer comes to a close, the executive body of the Christian Youth Mission to Armenia, Western Diocese (CYMA-WD) is pleased to report the highly successful completion of the CYMA-WD program's fourth year.
The 2007 CYMA-WD program was definitively the largest and most comprehensive diasporan youth mission to Armenia whilst executing both a two week Spiritual Pilgrimage and eight week Professional Internship Program in Yerevan and surrounding areas. As CYMA-WD participant Vaughn Eyvazian proclaimed at the conclusion of his journey, "CYMA was the perfect catalyst in which to travel to Armenia and experience this land and this culture to its greatest extent."
The 2007 Spiritual Pilgrimage was led by Deacon Matthew Ash and Stefanie Ash and consisted of excursions to Armenia's cultural icons and most holiest sites. The 12 participants were busy each day traveling around the country to explore their identity as diasporan Armenians while adopting CYMA-WD's main mission, "Bridge the Gap." Pilgrim Arman Kalamkarian described, "Seeing the Badarak in Gharapagh would have to be the biggest affect on my faith. Just seeing all those people walk to church and STAND, not sit in pews, and pray was the biggest thing that did it for me."
This spiritually uplifting mission also introduced several other concepts to the pilgrims through various discussions about the Armenian Church, Artsakh, the Armenian Genocide, and personal future involvement in Armenia. At the conclusion of the pilgrimage, it was the wish for most participants to return to Armenia in the summer of 2008 to participate in the CYMA-WD Professional Internship program.
In addition, the CYMA-WD program included an eight week long Professional Internship program that provided participants with a truly unique way to experience Armenia with daily internships, community projects, discussion groups, spending time with local family and friends, and weekend pilgrimages to holy sites. CYMA-WD members also took part in the 2007 Birthright Armenia program giving them the opportunity to take part in Birthright's summer events, seminars and weekly language program. Overall, CYMA's 16 interns were very busy on a day to day basis involving themselves in many different aspects of Armenian life.
Interns were spread out inside of hospitals, governmental agencies, orphanages, youth programs and private industry. Upon the completion of the CYMA-WD mission, the participants of CYMA-WD 2007 gained a new perspective of their homeland and began a new path in life, this new path including a relationship with Armenia and Artsakh. CYMA-WD participants chronicled their experiences with both a web log and pictures of their journey found at www.cyma-wd.org.
Finally, this year's internship program was lead by a group of coordinators and members of the CYMA-WD executive committee. Special thanks goes out to Stefanie Ash, William Levon Dodd, Taline Kavazanian, Paul Keutelian, and David Yaldezian. Each contributor specialized in a certain area of the program and played a highly integral role in the success of this year's most inspiring mission. Hours and hours were spent by each contributor organizing each aspect of this mission before and during the trip to create the life changing journey for all 16 interns.
Moving forward to future years of the mission, CYMA-WD will be activly participating in special projects throughout the year and interacting with Armenia on continual basis year round. In addition, on the evening of Friday, November 30, 2007, CYMA-WD will be holding a dinner dance extravaganza to raise money for its 2008 program. Applications for the 2008 Spiritual Pilgrimage and Professional Internship program will be began in early 2008 and will be made available online at www.cyma-wd.org.
The CYMA-WD program experienced a new level of success in 2007. The CYMA-WD Executive board would like express gratitude for all of those were instrumental in ensuring that 2007 was a great success. This year's program was made possible with the help, support and guidance of His Eminence, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. In addition, CYMA-WD raised over $18,000 from the Western Diocese community to provide operating costs and scholarship funds for the program. Special thanks to each sponsor of the CYMA-WD program, a complete list can be found on www.cyma-wd.org.
The Christian Youth Mission to Armenia is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization under the auspices of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America and is a mission of the Armenian Church Youth Organization.