The 25th Anniversary of Toronto’s ACC Summerfest 2022 Was A Great Success – Record-Breaking Attendance

By: Talin Orfali Ghazarian

ACC Summerfest 2022

On the weekend of July 8, 9, 10, 2022, The Armenian community centre of Toronto held its annual ACC Summerfest at the Armenian Youth Centre. The last 2-3 years due to the pandemic the summerfest was unfortunately on hiatus, but 2022, the biggest party of the year came back with record-breaking attendance from near and far.

Almost 8,000 people attended in the three days span. It was a successful weekend with awesome entertainment, food, and more. It was like a big family reunion where people come together after a long time of not seeing each other. Also people made new friends too.

People traveled from Los Angeles, Montreal, Detroit, Kitchener, Cambridge, Milton, St. Catharines, Armenia, Lebanon, and other parts of Canada, USA and the world.

The ACC Summerfest was visited by various dignitaries, as well as his Worship the Mayor of Toronto John Tory. We had a jam packed line-up of entertainment provided by our Master of Ceremonies all weekend long by a famous Armenian comedian all the way from Los Angeles. Her name is Mary Basmadjian that goes by the screen name of “Vartoush”. She also gave us a comedy show which we couldn’t stop laughing.

Then we had Martin Mkrtchyan, Marco Mr. Tam Tam, Serop Hagopian, Armenchik, Ararad Aharonian, Ronios, Suro, Joelle, DJ Davo, along with various vendors, a petting zoo, pony rides, magic show, entertainment zone for the kids and a lot more. Then to end off the weekend, the summerfest came to a close with Armenian Patriotic songs where we held up Armenia, Artsakh, Canadian flags to remember our Armenian heroes of Artsakh and Armenia where Hratch Jabrayan came up on stage to say a heartfelt yet touching speech.

We even received news media coverage by CP24.

We enjoyed delicious Armenian/Middle Eastern food made by Lara’s Restaurant and Mezze’s and other variety of foods by Arz Fine foods.

There was also authentic Armenian souvenirs, books, CD’s, Armenia Flag memorabilia to purchase.

It takes all year to plan a huge event like this. Hard work, determination, dedication, and hours and hours day in and day out of meetings, preparations, and carefully planning out the entertainment lineup, contacting them, the availability, equipment and so much.

It was so refreshing and wonderful to see people out and about again coming back to a normal life of seeing people’s faces, smiles, people having a great time after a hectic couple of years we have had to endure.

The purpose of the ACC Summerfest is to strengthen the Armenian community, to get together with our families, friends to gather and to create everlasting memories, to preserve our Armenian culture and heritage by listening to our music, to support our local Armenian businesses and a lot more.

It certainly is not easy to plan an event like ACC Summerfest. I would like to thank the organizing committee, volunteers, bartenders, cleaners and all those who gave a helping hand to make this a great experience for all. I appreciate you all very much. It takes a lot of energy. I observed and witnessed it and I should say that you are all heroes. It was an excellent weekend.

I say thank you a billion trillion times. That is even not enough.

I and I am sure everyone enjoyed themselves all weekend. It was such a fantastic weekend and even the weather cooperated with no rain. It was so beautiful and comfortable. Mother Nature blessed us. It was great.

I am looking forward to the 2023 Armenian Community Centre Summerfest next year and I am counting the days!

In Armenian I shall say Vartzgernit Gadar, Shad Shunoragalem. Asdvadz bahe tzez polorit!

Toronto Pearson Airport, Baggage and Flight delays and cancelations

Toronto Pearson Airport is a huge mess with a sea of baggage everywhere and huge hassle for passengers and including other Canadian Airports with canceled flights because of lack of staff. They should have hired more people when they were getting out of this so-called pandemic and they knew they were getting out of this months ago. They should have called people back for their jobs and shouldn’t have laid people off in the first place.

Passengers are waiting for hours to get through security, customs and from check in to gate. Some flights are being delayed or canceled.

That is why I always say go to Airport early. These are prime examples.

Lack of upper management and lack of professionalism. They just look for profit and are greedy not giving back. They used to give you food and freebies on flights, that is lacking too. You gotta pay for it. As if you aren’t paying enough for your flight. Even baggage fees too. It’s ridiculous. Fees for everything. It’s crazy!

The art of communication in person is lacking. People just don’t know how to handle things in a physical form anymore. Airlines and Airports want you to email your problems to them. You can’t talk to anybody on the phone instantly anymore. It’s horrible and you need to wait for hours until you get a hold of someone.
Technology is good in some senses, but it shouldn’t take over everything.

That is why people are in this mess. Don’t put down the airlines or airports, it’s the people who are managing and making the decisions that are the problem. No logic whatsoever.

I still love Toronto Pearson Airport and travel life. Nothing will deter me away. The Big kahunas are the ones we should let go of and put people in charge of those who actually care for passengers.

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Being Left out in this tough world

In the last little while, I have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on life and just doing a complete 360 degrees of who and what matters in my life.

In my life I have been left out a lot, used, bullied, hurt and felt like I’ve been put to the side when I’m not needed. This goes back to when I was a kid. I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately. So many emotions. I’ve been battling anxiety at times.

It’s been so hard to keep my smile going, and being positive, thinking happy thoughts and being in my happy places, and doing what I love. I’m at a breaking point where I feel like I have been fighting so hard to keep my feelings bottled up inside of me.

Sometimes in my mind, I think of being left out as a kid to my teenage life and into my adult life. I’ve been treated like an outsider like I don’t matter. I felt like I didn’t fit in because I am different, my thought process and my way of life. I feel in my mind that people say really bad things about me behind my back. I just know it and feel it in my gut instinct.

The problem is that when you have a soft heart, with good intentions, being thoughtful, always there for everyone and to go above and beyond, I feel like we are the ones who get trampled on and we get to be the ones where people find the opportunity to use and to walk all over.

Nowadays, you need to think with your mind and not the heart, and nowadays you need to stand up for yourself in this tough world.

Gut instincts are not wrong. I am very observant and they do not know that, but my eyes and ears are wide open and I see everything.

I’m a very sentimental person who loves, cares, appreciates and is grateful for everyone in my life.

I’m just thinking if people equally love, cares, appreciates and is grateful to have me in their life, if I matter to them, if they ever think of me or check up on me to see how I am. I feel like 99% of the time I have to chase people to check up on them.

There is just so much I still need to say. I’ll leave that for another day. I’m just hoping that nobody has to go through what I went and I’m still going through. It’s the worst. If you can relate to me, let’s talk.

Captain Kate McCue – The Queen of the Sea

Just over a year ago, I was going through YouTube for some cruise ship videos and I saw a video that got me to click to watch. It was from Celebrity Cruises Captain Kate McCue. Today, I am introducing you to the very beautiful Captain Kate McCue and what I think of her.

Captain Kate McCue is the first woman captain of a mega giant cruise ship. She is born on January 6th, 1978 from San Francisco, California. She is married to Nikola Petrovic. She began as a commanding officer of Celebrity Summit in 2015. She has also worked for Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise lines.

Since the age of 12 when her family and her went on a cruise ship, Captain Kate became so intrigued and invested into the cruises that she wanted to become a cruise director. With her love, dedication, devotion, enthusiasm, she began her journey to studying at California State University Maritime Academy and she also has a lot of training and knowledge to operate a cruise ship.

Captain Kate has witnessed shipbuilding at the cruise ship building yards, the drydock, and seeing cruise ships come to life. She gained an appreciation to the hard work and determination of the cruise builders which further solidified her love for these gigantic vessels.

Captain Kate has an iconic sphynx cat named Bug Naked which sails with her on the cruise ships that she takes command of. You may or may not have seen her YouTube, Instagram and TikTok accounts, but if you have not. It is a must see.

There is just so much about Captain Kate, I would love to talk about, but you can also search more about her.

What I think of Captain Kate McCue.

I think Captain Kate is such a beautiful, dedicated and awesome person. I see her personality, the way she treats the passengers and crew is ever so awesome, professional, so friendly and absolutely full of life. She is a humble, down-to-earth person whom I absolutely love. She is definitely someone you can talk to about anything.

Although, I have not met her yet, but through her social media, through all the articles, and all the endorsements and everything I have heard about her, I can truly say I feel like I have met her already and I feel like she has been in my life for years.

She lights up the room with her radiant and delightful smile. A true inspiration for all women and girls out there in the world who dream of doing great and big things in life. Captain Kate is someone who demonstrates a go-getter personality. Its my dream to get to meet her someday to tell her to her beautiful face on how she has made an awesome impact in my life.

Captain Kate and I are the same when it comes to love of cruise ships and cruising. We share the same passion, drive and appreciation for the cruise industry, but there is just one difference. Kate is a Captain and I am a cruise passenger who has had the pleasure of sailing 8 to 9 times on different cruise ships.

I just love that I can relate to her. It drives me crazy and bonkers when people call a cruise ship a boat. It gets me so annoyed. On Captain Kate’s name tag, her slogan says, Do not call it a boat or something like that. I just love that. It is true. It is a ship. You wouldn’t want to call a canoe a yacht now would you?

I wish Captain Kate McCue all the best in her future sailings and sending her, her officers, crew, and passengers blessings with everything. May she have safe, happy and healthy sailings wherever her ship sails.

You can connect and follow her on social media.

Cruise Ships and Me

By: Talin Orfali Ghazarian

When I was a kid around 10 years of age around 1995 or around that time frame, I remember when I traveled with my family to Cozumel, Mexico. We stayed at a hotel right by the cruise port. One morning we woke up and we saw these 3 gigantic cruise ships at the port. We got so excited that we wanted to go see them. After our breakfast, We decided to leave the hotel grounds to go walk by the big cruise ships on the pier. Back then we were allowed to walk beside them before restrictions came along to only crew and cruise passengers being allowed. Then my dad said to us, we will one day go on one of these ships.

Sometime went by. I was 15 years of age around 1999-2000. My dad said, let’s plan and go on a cruise. I got so excited to the point where I was jumping up and down. We booked a cruise and then began packing. We went to the airport to catch our flight. Our first cruise embarked from Montego Bay, Jamaica. We took the bus to our cruise ship. That first glimpse of our ship Sundream from Sun Cruises back in the day. My excitement went through the roof.

I remember when I was going crazy on the bus and I said, Wow, that is so huge! Meanwhile it was a mid-size ship and back then I was just starting on researching cruise ships. One of the ladies on the bus said, My dear there are far more bigger ships out there. So, we check in, get on the ship. Those first steps. That first glimpse of ship life was so amazing. We were hooked right away. I felt like cruising was made for us. We fell in love with cruises. We ate such delicious food, we took in the beautiful sea, visited many ports, enjoyed the entertainment and meeting people. Enjoyed the sightseeing, met the captain of the ship and the officers. Our table was one away from the captains dinner table and it was amazing. I was so excited to see the white uniforms. From then on, I became obsessed with cruise ships. I have met every captain and the officers of all my cruises I have been on. I love the photo ops with them. They are awesome.

I decided to do a lot of research which impressed a lot of people as I began to learn the cruise lingo, studied different cruise lines and ships. So practically more than half of my life, I have been devoted to cruises and cruising. Life changed and my perspective on life too. I got to experience one of the most exciting ways to see the world and to travel thanks to my father.

My latest cruise I took was the partial crossing of the Panama Canal. That was so exciting to experience and to see one of the most important parts of the world. Without the Panama Canal, shipping would take a lot longer. It is a time saving shortcut for cruise and cargo ships. The ships would have to sail under Antarctica and come back up north. That would take a long time. Panama Canal was quite amazing to see.

For a while now, it has been my dream to go to a drydock to witness a cruise ship being built and the day where it touches water for the first time to do sea trials. That would be an amazing thing to see. I have even had dreams on becoming a GodMother of a cruise ship one day.

There is just something about these cruise ships that get me excited about them. Ships and technology have come a long way since the beginning of the cruising industry. So many beautiful designs, more to offer guests, food options, drink options, and so much to do on them. You have no time to be bored. Each deck on a ship feels like you are in a different part of a city. They are floating moving cities that sail from port to port.

Now, after many years of experience and research, I have been giving travel advice, tips and packing tricks to a lot of people who have asked me. Friends, family and a lot of people online are coming to me to give them information. When they decided to book a cruise and go, they came back and they messaged me and thanked me for giving them the best advice. They became hooked on cruising just like I did when I first began.

There are over 300 cruise ships worldwide and that number is expected to increase in the coming years as new cruise ships are expected to make its debut to the cruise lines they belong to. There are a few cruise ship building yards and most are found in Northern Europe and in Italy.

Cruise ship building is not easy. A lot of work goes into building them from the steel, welding, wiring, testing, inspections, hundreds of tests and so much more. All cabins of a cruise ship comes assembled prior, and even parts of the ship from the Bow, Aft, Midship, The bulb, propulsion systems come in and then as a puzzle, they weld and make it come together as one.

So many aspects of a cruise ship is a lot of hard work. Designing ships aren’t easy. They need to find interior decorators, they need to find the style, furniture, bedding, linen, cutlery, plates, glassware, among flooring, walls, paintings, finishing and everything. So many steps are taken to carefully select high quality products to meet the cruise lines expectations.

These aspects really excite me to no end. I can go on and on about these beautiful ships. I’ve been quite fortunate in my life to travel and share my travel life with others. I feel that everyone should try cruising at least once in their lifetime.

Booking and planning a cruise is not so difficult at all. As long as you go to the right sources and to the right people, its such a fun and awesome moment. I know there are so many things involved with getting to know the cruise vibe, but I guarantee you that you will love it.

I love watching how the captain and the officers navigate the ship to the dock and I love it when they drop the lines to secure the ship to the dock. I never miss an opportunity to view that process. I always wake up early to watch the whole process unfold. It is quite amazing how ships can turn on a dime.

I have been on a total of 8 cruises. I am hoping to get on more ships and enjoy and experience very soon. On YouTube, I have been watching live port cams of cruise ships docked at various areas of the world. I even go and search cruise ships in general and watch the videos and living vicariously through people’s videos until I am able to get back on a cruise ship again. I have made many friends through this industry and its amazing how we can come together to talk about our similar interests.

Will you get onboard with me and follow my cruise journey? I can’t wait to share more as I get on more cruise ships. I can’t wait to book more soon.

The Social Media Attention Seekers

Remember back then before social media existed, we wrote in journals and secret diaries where we did not want people to read? Now, with social media trending, it is so much easier to share ideas, post videos, pictures and write articles for the world to see. Now, we are drowning in information overload, so many videos created and pictures posted. Sometimes, we cannot keep up.

Recently, I have been watching YouTube videos of how to cook and bake certain foods I want to try for myself, and then all of a sudden, I ended up on these YouTube channels that are so beyond disgusting, dangerous and attention seeking. It is not for entertainment purposes nor appropriate.

Well, those videos are those people who put themselves in front of a camera to eat 32 Big Macs from Mcdonald’s, or someone who eats plates and plates of Spaghetti, or those people who join massive eating contests to eat boiled eggs, a gigantic pizza, or a huge plate of a mountain of food. That is not only unhealthy, but very terrible example they are setting for people. It is beyond me of how people can eat that much. I am sure the aftermath was not fun for them to deal with.

Some people nowadays, do not care about endangering themselves and spreading a terrible trends that can endanger other people’s lives. They don’t care how this negatively affects other people. It is very ridiculous. Social media has really gotten out of hand. I was not going to join TikTok, but I took the plunge and I did it. I have noticed a lot of strange and horrible videos. Just so people get their 15 minutes of fame.

People are following each other to do the same thing. They don’t consider the consequences in the long run that can affect their life and others. People are not grasping reality. A lot of people on social media are trying so hard to do anything and everything to get themselves out there and to make themselves famous.

The question is when do we draw the line? Some people make tons of money off of YouTube and other social media to do absolute nonsense and people now of all ages are engaging in some people’s ridiculous trends. While people who actually physically work hard to make ends meet do not get the amount of money that someone who stuffs their face with ridiculous and outrageous amounts of food that is so unhealthy.

People have really lost their way. I just hope that people get a wake up call and realize what they are doing to themselves and what they distribute out there in social media. It is very concerning, dangerous and very ridiculous. The quality of people now, morals, respect. dignity, and goodness is so rare. Especially these days. We need to stop attention seekers being able to do what they want no matter what the cost.

I would love your opinions on this matter. Do you agree?

What do you think should happen? Are you in favor of a social media cleanse? Do you think social media platforms need to be more mindful of what they accept?

My Dream – Cruise Ship Christening – Naming Ceremony

By: Talin Orfali Ghazarian

Since 1999, it was my very first time I went on a cruise. The thought of it really excite me. I remember going to a travel agent and looking through brochures of cruise ships and I automatically fell in love with them. I began to go through books to research on them. The first ever cruise ship I ever sailed on was the Sundream of Sun Cruises and immediately the following year in 2000/2001 her sister ship Sunbird. then in 2002, Costa Atlantica.

Then in the recent years I went on the MSC Seaside, Norwegian Joy and a few others. I keep hearing about christening, naming ceremonies, dry dock celebrations. I have seen videos on YouTube on cruise ship inaugural ceremonies and that really made me become interested in wanting to one day be part of that to experience and witness it in person. Travel and cruises have been a passion of mine most of my life. I feel like I was born to travel and cruise. It is such an amazing feeling.

Now, you maybe wondering why cruise ships get christened before they sail out to sea with passengers and crew? Well, it is to bless the cruise ship and all who sail her. They tie a bottle of champagne and it must hit and break the bottle on the bow of the cruise ship with a press of a button. When it hits the side of the bow and breaks, it means its good luck. Then followed by a fireworks ceremony and a great party afterwards.

Christening a cruise ship is a very important part of its journey. That maiden voyage and first time when passengers who book their inaugural cruise vacation, they must feel so awesome to be able to be on the ship and be the first to sleep in those cabins, tasting the food, and enjoying the ships ammenities. It must be an exciting feeling.

In my lifetime, I hope to be part of that someday. It will mean a lot to me if I can experience that. I am very passionate about cruises and cruising. The specifications, the parts of a cruise ship and all the awesome lingo and terminology is what I absolutely love and I love talking the cruise ship language. It is my absolute favorite. A lot of people tend to ask me what cruises are, and what to do. It makes me feel so good. I love to help people with cruise ship questions from what to do before booking and what to pack and what advice they need when they sail

I always love to meet the cruise captain and the officers. I just love their uniforms, the hats, and the way they operate a cruise ship. Even the crew. Thank you all so much for working so hard. It is not easy running a giant cruise ship, it is not easy being away from family and friends for so many months, but to make a living and to provide for themselves and their families. I appreciate you all.

There are those passengers that are so disrespectful, show unkindness, are rude, and are very demanding. Don’t be rude. Be kind and respectful. They are working and trying extra hard of their abilities to make sure you have what you need. Ask kindly and in a respective manner. If you show good manners and are nice to them, they will appreciate it more than you know and they will look after you a lot better.

Just because you spend a lot of money on cruises, it doesn’t give you the entitlement to be rude and nasty to people who are trying their best to serve you. Be kind.

Anyway, that part was off topic, but I just thought I would put that in here, because people just need to hear it.

I hope that my dreams come true. It would mean the world to me. Cruise ships and cruising are in my blood.

I just love it. You can say I am obsessed 🙂

Late to the Cruise Ship at Cruise Ports? Should Passengers be fined?

Cruising is such a wonderful, fun and awesome experience. We anxiously wait to get on these beautiful cruise ships to take us on a voyage from place to place all in one vacation. It’s all awesome until we encounter pier runners. Pier runners are those who we call. “Late to the ship or those who miss the ship entirely”. Oops. 99.9% of the time cruise ships do not wait for late passengers arriving to the ship port.

cruise lines tell us to be at the ship an hour or half an hour before sail out to the next port. They mean business. Time is very precise aboard cruise ships. They need to follow strict guidelines on times.

Did you know that if a cruise ship stays a bit longer in port, they have to pay extra and a fine to the port?

Did you know that if a cruise ship waits for late passengers, the itinerary could be affected? Which means the ship has to make time to get to another port or they have to get to a port later than the initial time and that is not good for other passengers and crew.

Missing the ship is very costly to those passengers who chose to not respect the time to be back onboard. The late passengers are responsible to pay for transfer to the next port of call, they must pay extra for food, and other things. If you kept your passport or your other documents onboard the ship, you are basically in a lot of trouble and it can be a huge hassle to go through the port and transfer authorities.

Some cruisers who are pier runners are lucky when the gangway has not been stowed into the ship and they just make it. All you have to do is just look at the time and not go too far away from cruise ports so you know when to come back. Cruise ships will sail out and its tough luck.

There is no excuse to be late to the ship unless there is a legitimate reason as to why, but most of the time its excuses. Don’t blame it on souvenir shopping or going through shops and you lost track of time, don’t blame it on anything else. It is your responsibility to be on time and be on the ship way in advanced.

It is all time management. Make sure that you allocate yourself enough time. Leave the ship as soon as you are able to when they clear customs and local authorities. Then you can have enough time. Each port has their own times and own regulations. It is important to follow them.

If you are part of a shore excursion or something organized by the cruise line and the ship crew to go with you, then they won’t penalize you for being late, because sometimes traffic or another reason can delay a cruise ship for being late coming back.

When you go out on your own, it is your responsibility.

So, should late passengers to cruise ships be fined?
I believe that they should. cruise lines should fine individuals who choose to disobey and disrespect time. They should be held liable if the itinerary, time to sail out is affected and if a cruise line is fined from the port authorities.

Also passengers once onboard should be dealt with by officers. Repeats should have them be barred from leaving the ship from the next port.

I just have no sympathy for late people and who miss the ship. It is just common courtesy and respect for other passengers and crew waiting to go on with their itinerary and voyage. It is not fair that thousands of passengers onboard a cruise have to wait for just very few people. That is horrible. Nobody has that entitlement.

You may have seen videos on YouTube about pier runners and missing the ship. Just watch those videos. You wouldn’t want to be in that position. It is embarassing and very humiliating. Don’t put yourself in that situation.

What do you think?

Don’t wait to Travel! Do it now! Explore the world

People who don’t travel, who do not see the world, experience life outside their comfort zones, who have fear of travel on aircraft, going to resorts, and going on cruises… I have five words for you. It’s all in your mind!

Stop wasting your life away. I know we work, priorities, life, kids, school, responsibilities, home, bills, food and all that, but it’s all in the way you save, it’s all in the way you spend your money. I’m not telling you what to do with your money, but I’m just saying to live a little, go on a trip, get a passport… life is too short…

If you barely have any experience traveling, you can always come talk to me. I can help you. Travel opens up your eyes, gives you meaning, perspective, different views on life, seeing and meeting new people, it gives you memories, it strengthens your confidence, the way you see things in life. If you go through life without seeing anything, you will regret it. Trust me. You gotta start somewhere.

You can share stories, have topics to talk about, sharing pictures, videos and so much. It gives meaning go your life. Don’t always go to the same places either. There is a world out there waiting for us to discover

Don’t wait to retire to do things, don’t wait until you are much older to do things. Do it now while you still can. Time doesn’t wait for anybody, and days and years go by so quickly…

Quit being afraid and do it. Life is meant to be explored. Don’t waste time. Do as much as you can before it’s too late!

Talin’s Travel Tips During The COVID19 Pandemic

We have all been through a lot haven’t we since February, 2020? It has been a roller coaster of emotions running through us all during this COVID19 pandemic. We felt isolated, we couldn’t see family and friends, our lives took a halt, our travel plans were put on hold. We have all been affected in some way, shape and form and some were not so lucky unfortunately.

The travel industry has taken a dive, but things are starting to look up in the travel industry with all-inclusive resort vacations, cruises, flights, hotels, and more. I am here to give you travel tips during the COVID19 pandemic and what you should know. Here they are:

01 — Before you book your trip, it is always a good idea to do extensive research on PCR COVID tests that could be required before and after travel, check to see proof of vaccine requirements, and those who have received mixed doses of vaccines should check if that is permitted. Especially if you are thinking of going on a cruise.

02 — Those who received 2 different vaccine doses are allowed in some destinations. As time goes on officials will recognize mixed vaccines and those individuals will be allowed access of travel to destinations. It is good to always verify that.

03 — Allow yourself a lot of extra time to be early at airports and cruise ports. It is always good to arrive 4 hours before a flight. Line ups could be long and going through security screening and presenting your covid vaccine records can take time. Nowadays, when you go on a cruise, they recommend you to book your flight the day before your cruise and arrive at the cruise terminal very early.

04 — Have all your documents, vaccine records, PCR Test results, passports and everything ready. Purchase a document/ticket/passport holder where you can fit everything nice and perfectly. Always present your documents in a proper manner. Make sure the documents are not crumpled up and they are in perfect condition. Have them ready to present in your hand.

05 — Patience is key. Entitlement is not the way. Be respectful, obey and stay calm. At airports and cruise terminals, and at resorts, it is important to show good manners, and to treat people with dignity and kindness. Airport, Cruise, Resort and hotel workers will and are doing their best and working hard to make sure that you have a great time and have a stress-free time during these difficult times. Nowadays kindness and respect go a long way and to demonstrate that on a daily basis and always is very important.

06 — Always check out government travel sites to obtain information, news and updates.

07 — Travel, health, cancellation, baggage insurance is a must. Always purchase insurance for a peace of mind. It is very important.

For other questions or concerns, Please do not hesitate to contact me or put a comment down below and I will try my best to respond to you as soon as I am able to.

Have a safe, healthy and great trip!

The Social Media Kindness Project

The Social Media Kindness Project
by: Talin Orfali Ghazarian

Social media has become a big part in today’s society and some people use it for goodness, positive and inspiration, but others not so much. Some people tend to use social media in a negative and toxic way to spread hate, bullying, rudeness, and sending terrible comments to anyone. As previous generations have taught “If you have nothing nice to say or do, do not say or do anything at all”. That is the golden rule.

So, with that I have come up with the social media kindness project. You have no idea what someone is going through in their lives. It is always a good idea to be kind and use social media in empowering and positive ways. This is going to take a village to do. Social media needs a big makeover and we need to start somewhere.

I cannot believe that we have to teach people proper behavior and how to act these days, but we have to. It has become too much and has gone way out of hand. We are not perfect and we do mistakes, but being rude and unkind is not a mistake. It is a bad habit and we need to eliminate it as much as we can.

Social media should be a place where we can be free to post pictures, updates, videos, status updates, stories, ideas, opinions and suggestions. It should be used to get us out of our daily life and to unwind, have fun and share a bit of our lives, but not to the point where it can be misused.

Now, here are instructions of what we can do together to build a safer and happier community online:

  • If you see unkind, rude and horrible comments made by somebody in any group, pages, or to an individual person, report it to the social media outlet that it is found on, and then if you are able to, send that person a private message to teach them kindness and to point out what they did wrong in a civil way. Remember, we are trying to make a difference and be kind to unkind people, so that they can hopefully learn from their mistakes.
  • Vulgar language, inappropriate posts, swearing, threats and other profanity should have no place on social media, especially when shared with people of all ages from children to elderly. Respect each other and create a safe and enjoyable place for everyone.
  • If you see bullying happen, someone being made fun of, being humiliated and ridiculed, step up, report it, take screenshots, record everything, time, date and names involved in the bullying and then find out who you can send the information to. If the situation becomes to the point where authorities need to be contacted, please do. Silence is not the answer. It could save lives, it could prevent from further escalation of the situation.
  • We are all entitled to our opinions and how we feel, but there are all kinds of personalities and people in all walks of life online and we need to be general as can be, and we cannot discriminate. There needs to be 0 tolerance in racism, making fun of someone’s color, orientation, religion, beliefs and how they live their lives. We are all human and deserve love, respect and being treated equal, and fairly.
  • Everybody needs a friend, we all need to feel included, to feel welcome, and be amongst people who care, who needs good advice, love, and being in diversity with all kinds of people. We need to give people positive empowerment.
  • Some people have lived in a toxic lifestyle with nothing but negativity and bad days in their lives, and we need to make sure that these people can be in a place in their lives where they can count on us and it is important to mean it to make them feel better, to take them out of that negativity to be there for them in great ways, to mentor them and to let them know they are not alone and they can come to us at anytime.
  • Social media is open 24/7 365 days a year and there are people in every time zone, It will be amazing and so incredibly beautiful to see social media blossom like flowers to see a fun place for us all to enjoy, be safe and to use it wisely.

This is not some kind of chain letter or those copy and paste posts. This is authentic and very real. This project is very important. I have seen so much as a person who has used social media, since it began before the MySpace days, Asian Avenue and all that. It has been a long time. I have seen a lot of rude and unkind people online and it is very disturbing. We need to combat and make a difference in people’s lives. So important.

What do you think should be done? What are your opinions or suggestions or other measures we can take to get this project underway? Would love to hear from you in the comments below.

This Kindness project will help billions of lives online, and it will make this world a better and safer place. Let’s do this, and let’s start to get things back on track. Now, are you with me on this?

I cannot do this without you. I would appreciate it. Thank you.

The Armenian Church Youth Organization of Canada (ACYOC)

The Armenian Church Youth Organization of Canada (ACYOC)
By: Talin Orfali Ghazarian

The Armenian Church Youth Organization of Canada (ACYOC) was established in 1984. In the diaspora where Armenians are situated outside of Armenia. As Armenians began to establish themselves in Canada, it became an important and integral part to develop a sense of community and belonging.

ACYOC brought Armenian youth and young adults together to create life-long friendships, to establish committees, conduct meetings, create events in both a social and spiritual aspect for All to enjoy and participate in. The main events of a course of a year are sports weekends, banquets, palm Sunday luncheon, camping trips, retreats and meetings held in different provinces with the presence of clergy. We also conducted other events throughout the year as well. We also went to the United States to have weekend retreats in Chicago, New York and other areas and to make friends with ACYOA Members Armenian Church Youth Organization of America.

From West Coast to the East Coast, we have chapters from Vancouver, Edmonton/Calgary, Toronto, Mississauga, Golden Horseshoe, St. Catharines, Montreal and Laval. The main headquarters for ACYOC was in Montreal at St. Gregory The Illuminator Church.

Our life-long friendships are still blossoming to this day. We often think about all the great times and memories from events, meetings and everything else in between. Some met each other, became couples and got married. It is evident that ACYOC became a positive and happy organization to strengthen bonds and preserve our community. People ages from 14-35 participated in events and also some joined committees. There were two groups. Jr. and Sr. ACYOC committees. To this day we still talk about our memories.

As an ACYOC committee member when I was communications director, writer, keeping track of meetings, advertising events, creating event flyers, emailing and also being a Chairperson for a time which was incredibly amazing. I got to travel to Vancouver, Montreal, Laval, Mississauga for events and gatherings and we used to have meetings in Kingston, Ontario which is half way between Toronto and Montreal. Created many fond memories, and I still have all the pictures from all our events.

You can say that I am very sentimental and keep these memories in my heart and life as it was a big portion of it as a teenager and well into my 20’s. In recent years, we lost touch with ACYOC, but definitely not with each other. That was solely because a lot of people moved onto creating families of their own and some moved away.

I joined ACYOC in 2002/2003 and I was in the committee every year until 2010/2011. They were the best and memorable years. I remember it was my birthday weekend and we had a meeting in Kingston, Ontario, so our whole group took me to Montreal to celebrate and met up with our friends in Montreal for an awesome weekend. I’ll never forget that. Awesome memories that I still remember like it was yesterday. So you can say I have had a lot of experience.

I have been thinking about ACYOC quite a lot more these days is because I want to jump start it again, create committees, look for enthusiastic Armenian youth and young adults across Canada in our chapters to give the new generation a chance to participate and find joy, life-long friendships as we did. It is very important to me.

Back then, social media had just begun. I remember sending emails out and starting groups to make it easier for Armenians to find us and see who we are. Hopefully in the coming months we will reintroduce ACYOC once again and I will be there to assist and to give guidance and share my experiences with this generation.

I am very excited to be working hard to make this a vibrant community once again. Are you in? I am! Let’s do this!

The Comfort of Disrespect and Ignorance on Social Media

In the many years of social media existence, we come across many strangers in all walks of life and different kinds of personalities and how people react to things seen. Now more than ever people are engaged into social media in some shape or form.

Not everybody agrees with certain things, and there are just some really nasty, disgusting and horrible posts with a lot of disrespect, rudeness and sheer ignorance. Some people do not think about what they post online for others to see.

Be kind and if you do not like a certain post or if there are things you do not adhere to, there is the magic of a scroll button on your computer or use your thumb to scroll down on your phone. It’s honestly ridiculous. Enough is enough with people’s criticism and rude comments. Like this world isn’t going through enough, people just add fuel to the fire.

I’m appalled at today’s society and comfort to hide behind screens to act in a horrible manner. Morals and respect is very rare. It’s getting too much! It is disgusting. People have certainly lost their way. As a social media blogger and writer, I have seen a lot in the many years I’ve been online and it’s getting worse. People just don’t care about others feelings. It’s very wrong.

People think that they are the only ones on social media and they think they can do whatever they please, but you are not alone. There are over a billion people in the world that use some sort of social media platform and all can be seen from all parts of the world. Use discretion. Everything has its limits. Just because the internet is a place that is open 24/7 365 days a year, it doesn’t mean that you are entitled to be ignorant and rude to others who you do not even know!

You know, comments and reactions that are negative in nature can do serious damage to another persons self-esteem, confidence, mental health, emotions and it can have consequences that can lead people to do physical harm to themselves and even worse. Yes, you maybe a stranger to another person, but when people actually get affected by it, its horrible. What you do online affects others too.

Ahhh if you think its not a big deal to insult others online because you don’t know them, then you are sadly mistaken.

Now, with the pandemic of COVID19 of more than a year now, a lot more people are spending more time online to pass time. It is always a good idea to reach out to people who are going through a lot. We all are going through our problems, issues, and all kinds of things and we want to get on social media to escape those troubles.

Social media is supposed to be a fun environment where people share photos, ideas, advice, videos, tips, sharing memories, a joyous place to laugh and to pass time without seeing so many negative, insulting, offensive posts by others.

Being kind to others is very important. There are ways to approach certain situations and to react in a civil, good-hearted manner. So many groups and so many posts on certain pages have so much disrespect and its just so disturbing by the amount of people that have become so cold. All of us go through things, but it doesn’t mean that you can use that as an excuse to be mean to others. To me, I have 0 tolerance with rudeness.

Just think about it. You wouldn’t want people to be disgusting and ignorant to you, would you? Can you imagine how that would make you feel? Life is too short everyone. Tomorrow is never promised. Love each other, appreciate one another. We are all human. Respect, appreciation and goodness go a long way in life. Practice good behavior on social media and in your daily life as well.

All the best and hopefully you make a wise decision about your actions. Think before you post anything. It is that simple. It will save a lot of problems and consequences in the long run. I am just looking out for everyone’s interest. Be careful, have fun and spread positive joy to others lives.

Just trust me on this. Social media needs a huge overhaul and makeover to kindness, respect and love. Spread this and just think about it and do it!

In Loving Memory of Beautiful Sevan Magarian Atherton

In Loving Memory of Beautiful Sevan Magarian Atherton

In recent months it has been difficult for me to put into words of how heartbreaking it was when I unfortunately was informed of the passing of one of my dear childhood friends in our Armenian community. It absolutely shocked me. Sevan Magarian Atherton was a loving daughter, wife, friend, cousin, colleague and mother-to-be to her son Melik. I have still been in disbelief.

I was finally able to write about her and how much she meant to me. Just so much to say, so much to share about her. Sevan was one of my very first friends at our Armenian community Centre of Toronto when I was around 10 or 11 and she was around 8 or 9. I can’t remember the exact age and when, but I guess that doesn’t matter. All that mattered to me was meeting her. Sevan was one of a kind.

Every Friday nights, we used to hang out together to make memories and have fun and with her other friends and cousins. I never had friends and was heavily bullied emotionally and mentally in my regular school, but when I heard about and began to go on Fridays to join the Armenian community, I walked into our Centre and about an hour or so later a lot of people were coming and Sevan was there to welcome me with open arms. I felt welcome, accepted and she involved me. It was so refreshing and I felt important and I felt like I mattered. our friendship circle grew as time went on.

I am forever grateful to her and love her. She had such a golden and beautiful heart who was always selfless, who cared about people so much I wish we took photos with each other so I can keep them in my heart, but back then we had no smartphones, none of us carried cameras with us either and we were just living in the moment making memories of which I still remember in my mind.

Our Friday nights diminished. Everyone started with responsibilities and as we got older, We lost touch after a few years and then I would see her at certain Armenian events after, but I don’t know what happened. I guess we were trying to find ourselves, and our lives took us to different paths. I was going to reach out to her on social media a few years ago and catch up on life and everything going on in our lives, but wasn’t able to which I regret. She was and is always in my thoughts.

Her childhood friend Sirusho who is an Armenian Artist/Singer who resides in Armenia, she made beautiful videos on YouTube and it was a tribute to Sevan and Sirushos life in Toronto. It is called Armat – Sirusho in Toronto, Canada. Sevan was talking about how she met her Husband Michael Atherton, her memories with Sirusho and at the school they attended at Arpi Nursery and so much more. I have watched it maybe 10 times already just so I can hear Sevans voice. I never attended Arpi Nursery, but I heard of how awesome the school was and how incredibly awesome the Late Arpi Meras was. Her beautiful personality, her dedication and devotion to everyone was incredibly beautiful.

It is times like this where we should never ever wait to reach out to those who we love, respect, cherish and appreciate. It is important to keep in touch with people who have made life better and a great positive impact. If you wait, it can be too late. These are life lessons to learn. Never put anything off. Always do what you can today in the present and don’t leave putting things off for later. Tomorrow is never promised. Young and elderly. It has no age limit.

In the last few months Sevan has been appearing in my dreams and she keeps smiling at me and I know she is looking down from heaven and she is comforting me. Thank you Sevan for everything. I never got to thank her for accepting me for who I am and now I finally have. Sevan, wherever you are in heaven, always know that you are and will always be in my heart and I am forever grateful for you. I love and miss you Sevan. May you rest in peace. I know you are watching over everyone in your life.