Page 1


AGBU ARMENIA NEWSLETTER Yerevan, Armenia IN THIS ISSUE  AGBU President Berge Setrakian in Armenia (p. 1)  Honoring the Nazarians (p. 2,3)  AGBU and AUA in NKR (p. 4)  AUA Extension for SyrianArmenians (p. 5)  Donation to the AGBU Papazian Library (p. 5)  Jamanak daily turns 105 (p. 6)  AGBU Armenia visits Tsitsernakabert (p. 6)  Armenian Genocide commemorated in Istanbul (p. 7)  AVC at Girls in ICT (p. 8)  AVC in Tbilisi (p. 9)  AGBU Programs at PanArmenian Youth Forum (p. 9)  7th Republican Chess Olympiad (p. 10)  2nd Season of MAP (p. 11)  MAP Alumnus shares her story (p. 11)  US Ambassador visits AGBU Hye Geen Center (p. 12)  UFAR students return from AGBU Paris Internship (p. 13)  AGBU YP Yerevan (p. 14, 15)  AGBU Yerevan Scouts (p. 16, 17)  KCO in Moscow (p. 18)  5th Renaissance festival (p. 18)  AGBU Plovdiv is 103 (p. 19)  New publication (p. 19)  AGBU Youth Programs (p. 20)

Issue 25, April - May, 2013

AGBU PRESIDENT BERGE SETRAKIAN IN ARMENIA Between May 27-June 4, AGBU President Berge Setrakian visited Armenia to attend a series of meetings and events. On May 30, President Setrakian participated in the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s annual Board of Trustees’ meeting. The meeting was presided over by the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, who is also Chairman of the Fund’s Board of Trustees. AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian attenPresident Sargsyan Presides over the Meeting of the State Commission ded the meeting during th on the 100 Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide which accomplishments and challenges were discussed. In addition, participants agreed on the target for the Fund’s 2013 Telethon. Funds raised during the annual November telethon will be used to build the 114-km Vardenis-Martakert Highway. AGBU has been a member of the Hayastan AllArmenian Fund since its inception in 1992. On the same day, Setrakian and Yacoubian attended the third meeting of the State Commission on Coordination of the Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, chaired by President Sargsyan. During the meeting, participants discussed past, current and future issues and plans. The next meeting of the commission is scheduled to take place on May 14, 2014, in Yerevan. AGBU President Setrakian is also a Member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Armenia (AUA). Throughout the week, Setrakian and Carol Aslanian, also an AGBU Central Board Member and AUA Board of Trustees Member, participated in many events held by AUA. On May 31, a video-conference board meeting was held with Trustees in Armenia, California and elsewhere. On June 2, President Setrakian delivered the Armenian-language commencement address to AUA’s graduating class. US Ambassador John Heffern delivered the English language commencement address. Around 200 graduates received Master’s degrees in Arts, Science, Engineering, Political Science and International Affairs, Laws, Business Administration, and Public Health. Five graduates received Certificates in Translation. Other AGBU representatives attending the graduation ceremony included AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian and Deputy Director Hovig Eordekian. Participating in the graduation ceremony was Haig Messerlian, former Chairman of the AGBU Western District Committee of America. Mr. Messerlian has been teaching at AUA for the last five years. On June 2-3, Mr. Setrakian and Mr. Yacoubian met with AGBU-Armenia staff to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing AGBU overall, and in particular, AGBU-Armenia.

Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s Board of Trustees Meeting

Prince Charles, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales visited Armenia on a private visit, at the invitation of the Yerevan, My Love Charity Foundation. President Setrakian attended a concert and several other events organized in honor of the Prince of Wales. Page 1


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

CATHOLICOS KAREKIN II HONORS NAZAR AND ARTEMIS NAZARIAN FOR A LIFETIME OF SERVICE AND PHILANTHROPY Gala Evening at New York's Plaza Hotel Hosted by Eastern Diocese and AGBU "There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward." These prophetic words by legendary poet Kahlil Gibran might be considered the lifelong creed of Mr. and Mrs. Nazar and Artemis Nazarian. On May 10, close to 400 people attended a gala banquet in New York's famed Plaza Hotel, to bear witness as the visiting Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, personally bestowed on the deserving couple the Knight of Holy Etchmiadzin Pontifical Medal - the highest honor of the Armenian Church. The event was sponsored by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), and went forward under the auspices of Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and AGBU President Berge Setrakian. Among the dignitaries in attendance were Diocesan Legate in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Vice Prime Minister of Armenia Armen Gevorgyan, United Nations Security Council Director Dr. Movses Abelian, Armenia's AmNazar and Artemis Nazarian with His Holiness Karekin II bassador to the United States Tatoul Markarian, Armenia's Ambassador to the United Nations Garen Nazarian, and Co-Chair of the Armenian Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Frank Pallone. Welcoming the enthusiastic guests, Nila Festekjian, Chair of the banquet committee, highlighted the significance of the evening by calling the Nazarians "a couple who we love, cherish, and respect." Master of Ceremonies Yervant Demirjian, AGBU's Treasurer, called it a "rare privilege" to have the Catholicos present. In his invocation, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian paid tribute to His Holiness, who "with a spirit of fatherly love and spiritual friendship has journeyed from Holy Etchmiadzin to share our joy tonight." The Primate extolled Nazar and Artemis Nazarian for their "lifetime of leadership and generosity," which has made the couple "shining examples of the Armenian Christian heritage at its best." He noted that "Nazar and Artemis are influential forces in the worldwide Armenian community, whose ethic of philanthropy has inspired our homeland to grow in the educational, cultural, national, and spiritual fields." SHARE AND GIVE In a heartfelt salutation to her parents, Seta Nazarian Albrecht shared the lessons she and her brother Levon had learned through the years. Revealing a childhood memory of her mother's kindness, Mrs. Albrecht recalled Artemis Nazarian's generosity to a stranger in a supermarket. "Lesson learned?" Seta asked, "We are blessed with many gifts. Share them." From her father, Nazar, who was always reading "everything in print, always looking for what was needed, and how he could help," Seta derived the lesson that "Our focus is not on ourselves, but on the needs of others." Concluding her message, Mrs. Albrecht encouraged "the future Artemises and Nazars" to "give of yourselves; give financial support when you can; give your time and give your skills. Stay connected to one another and your community." "If we do this," she added, "if we all follow my parents' example, our community, church and our culture will not only survive...we will thrive." A charming three-part video, produced by Ani Manoukian and Bryant Botero, presented lovely vignettes of the honorees' life together, as recounted by friends and members of the Nazarian family, including the couple's five grandchildren: William, Nicholas, Matthew, Daniela and Gregory. Close to 400 Family Members, Religious & Political Dignitaries, Commu- It was revealed that Nazar and Artemis had met at a dance nity Leaders and Friends at Plaza Hotel Paying Tribute to the Nazarians and married in 1954. Together, they have shown an unwavering commitment to Armenian communities around the world. Among their countless acts of benevolence are the AGBU Levon G. Nazarian Elementary School in Beirut; the AGBU Levon and Satenig Nazarian Fund; the AGBU Noubar Nazarian Building, housing the Armenian Embassy in Beirut; the Artemis Nazarian Preschool in Canoga Park, California; the AGBU Yerevan State Medical University Levon and Claudia Nazarian Radiology Center; and the new AGBU Center under construction in Armenia. Additional beneficiaries of their generosity are the AGBU Yerevan Summer Internship Program, AGBU Camp Nubar, and countless AGBU academic scholarships. In a lifetime of good deeds, Nazar and Artemis have upheld the Armenian Christian virtues of charity, loyalty and faithful leadership, always loyal to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and generous (continued on p. 3) benefactors of the Armenian Church. Page 2


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

CATHOLICOS KAREKIN II HONORS NAZAR AND ARTEMIS NAZARIAN... (continued from p. 2) They undertook the funding of the construction of the chancellery, which houses the administrative offices and the secretariat of the catholicate. In anticipation of the 1700th anniversary of Armenia's conversion to Christianity, they sponsored the construction of the Drtad Chapel of Yerevan's St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral. Viewers were also reminded that Nazar had been one of the godfathers of St. Vartan Cathedral, and Co-Chair of the St. Thomas Church building committee, and has always been supportive of major projects of the Eastern Diocese, including St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. Archpriest Fr. Arnak Kasparian, a longtime friend of the family, spoke for many in his filmed interview when he said to the Nazarians: "You are God's blessing for the Armenian people."

LOVE AND HUMOR Dr. Levon Nazarian, a prominent radiologist and academic, presented a multi-media "roast" of his parents, sharing some humorous and heartwarming episodes from his upbringing. He reminded the audience that Artemis is an accountant by training, and also an activist, raconteur, family historian, puzzle fanatic, baseball fan, and a skillful knitter "who has provided baby blankets for all of the diaspora." With His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All-Armenians a son's affection, he also portrayed his mother as "kind, trusting and generous; a philanthropist, patron of the arts, caring wife, mother, and grandmother." In a tender recollection of his father, Dr. Nazarian told of the trip they both made to Armenia, during which he felt he discovered his father anew, as he witnessed Nazar's outgoing desire to talk with everyone they met, and to help the great enterprise of building a free and flourishing Armenia. AGBU President Berge Setrakian, who has served on the AGBU Central Board of Directors with Nazar Nazarian for 35 years, gave a warm family tribute to the couple (his wife Vera is the niece of Nazar), speaking of the close family spirit, the sense of celebration, and protection in the family. "They give with humility and dignity," said Mr. Setrakian in his tribute to the honorees. "They are heroes and role models, who symbolize the best traits of the AGBU founders... I have seen very few individuals who care as much about AGBU, the Armenian Church, and the Armenian nation as Nazar. He follows all of our projects and initiatives closely, ensuring their continuity and success." Armenia's Vice Prime Minister Armen Gevorgyan read a message of appreciation to the honorees from Armenia's President Serzh Sargsyan, thanking them "for all your service and contributions to Armenia and Artsakh." At intervals throughout the evening, a string quartet played Komitas pieces as arranged by Aslamazian. Among the musicians was Tatevik Ayazyan, a beneficiary of the Nazarians' generosity, who thanked them in the video presentation. The other players were Cecee Pantikian, Anoush Simonian, and Ani Kalayjian. FAMILY, NATION, CHURCH The Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, was introduced by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, and expressed his pleasure at being present for this auspicious occasion. "The Nazarians exemplify the Armenian treasures of family, nation and church. Artemis was a catalyst for Nazar's great donations and contributions, and was responsible for bringing up her family. We know their children will continue their great contributions. The words of Nazar are embedded in my soul, that he will continue his help to Armenia in every way. The Nazarians "were able to see their dream of a free and independent Armenia come true," the Catholicos continued, speaking throughout in Armenian. "Armenia progresses through AGBU President Setrakian Reflects on the Nazarians' Lifetime of Service the kind work of our people. Let God's blessings always be on us and on the Nazarians, and may they continue their kind service to Armenia." With Artemis and Nazar Nazarian standing on either side of him, His Holiness decorated the honorees with the Knight of Holy Etchmiadzin Pontifical Medal - to a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd. As the audience quieted down, Artemis Nazarian spoke for her husband and family, expressing deep appreciation to the Catholicos and all the organizers and guests. "Tonight is one of the most memorable events of our lifetime," she said. "It has been an honor to have you, our friends and relatives, here for this unforgettable occasion," she said with emotion, bringing on another thunderous ovation. The memorable evening concluded with a benediction from the Catholicos Karekin II and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, as the large crowd pressed forward to congratulate Nazar and Artemis Nazarian. The tribute banquet committee led by Nila Festekjian, also included Seta Nazarian Albrecht, Anita Anserian, Sandra Balouzian, Lynn Beylerian, Kristine Casali, Betty Cherkezian, Ruby Gulian, Maral Hajjar, Arda Haratunian, Hilda Hartounian, Lynn Jamie, Maral Jebejian, Ani Kasparian, Ani Manoukian, Vesna Markarian, Claudia Nazarian, Sossy Setrakian, and Alice Yigitkurt. By Florence Avakian For videos, please visit: Nazarians: A Lifetime of Love, Nazarians: Documentary by Shoghakat TV or

Page 3


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AGBU AND AUA TO HELP SPARK ECONOMIC GROWTH IN KARABAKH AGBU Pledges $575,000 to Launch Continuing Education Program for Students and Adults The American University of Armenia (AUA) and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) have launched a collaborative initiative to help reignite the workforce in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. AGBU and AUA issued the announcement on Wednesday, April 3 during a ribbon cutting ceremony at Stepanakert School #3, attended by Karabakh Speaker of Parliament Ashot Ghoulian, Karabakh Prime Minister Ara Harutyunyan and other government officials. Following the ceremony, AUA hosted two open house events at the school, introducing its graduate, undergraduate and extension programs to the local community. While in Stepanakert, the AUA and AGBU delegation also visited with Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan, who is a strong proponent for developing Karabakh's education system. “We are fully aware of what the American University of Armenia brings to Karabakh and I can assure you that we will do everything to support you fully,” said President Sahakyan. NKR President Bako Sahakyan Received AGBU and AUA Delegates “More importantly, we will express our thanks and appreciation through our advancement as a result of your work. I believe this will be the best measure of your success.” To achieve this ambitious goal, AGBU has committed $575,000 over five-years to support a comprehensive Continuing Education Program (CEP) in Karabakh through AUA Extension. CEP will offer six levels of English language instruction and 4 certification tracks in Strategic Management, Executive Leadership, Public Policy Planning & Administration, and Tourism & Hospitality Management. “Education is key to sparking economic growth and AUA is excited to be working with AGBU to deploy a curriculum that helps create educational opportunities that translate into university degrees or prosperous careers in Karabakh, Armenia or the world,” said AUA President Bruce Boghosian. “Through CEP, AUA Extension will provide quality, continuing education opportunities in Karabakh that enhance career paths, promote higher education, and contribute to sustainable economic development.” AUA Extension will begin offering its CEP courses at Stepanakert School #3 while AGBU builds a new cultural, educational and artistic complex to house this and other programs. President Sahakyan noted that AGBU is an organization that is an integral part of NKR, and it was foreseeable that AGBU would initiate such a program.

(l-r) Vasken Yacoubian, Ashot Ghulyan, Dr. Bruce Boghossian

AUA Extension Director Arpie Balian Presents the Courses Offered to Artsakh Youth

“An exciting new era begins today. The AGBU NKR Campus, when completed, will expand the horizons of the people of Artsakh, provide new opportunities and contribute to the sustainable, economic development of the country,” AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian said. “The new campus is the natural continuation of AGBU’s unwavering support and commitment to the stability and prosperity of Karabakh since 1988.”

When construction is complete, the new AGBU NKR Campus will offer a wide range of programs for youth and adults, including training in the creative arts, media, and Internet technologies. These classes will be available to high school and college students, local businesses, entrepreneurs, and government officials. Through the campus, CEP will offer university test preparatory courses, seminars in management, public speaking, and computer software, as well as workshops on career development, resume writing and interview skills. For videos, please visit: AGBU in NKR (Meronq TV Program), AGBU and AUA in NKR (H1), AGBU and AUA in NKR (ArmNews TV) or

Page 4


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AUA EXTENSION OFFERS BEACON OF HOPE TO SYRIAN-ARMENIANS Increased Philanthropic Support Allows AUA to Expand Access to Tuition-Free Courses The American University of Armenia’s (AUA) Extension continues to provide the Syrian-Armenian population in Armenia with vital assistance, harnessing philanthropic support to provide tuition-free courses for college preparation and career development. “Education is Armenia’s strength and future,” said Ms. Judy Saryan, who recently joined philanthropists Sonia and Zaven Akian and Rita and Adam Kablanian in supporting the much-needed scholarship program. “I am very pleased to support AUA’s outreach to Syrian-Armenian students.” AUA has expanded the program to meet the growing needs of Armenia’s nascent Syrian-Armenian community. As of April, 2013, over 170 students have benefited from the program and another 230 students, previously on a waiting list, are now scheduled to receive funding from the scholarship. Earlier this year, the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund contributed to the program to ensure that it was accessible to more students. Generous donations from anonymous sources have also contributed to the success of this program. “These generous gifts came at a critical time for us, allowing AUA to swiftly develop classes and meet the needs of the students who were coming to us for help,” said AUA President Dr. Bruce Boghosian. “We are grateful for the community’s support,” added Boghosian. AUA Extension Offers Tuition-Free Courses for Syrian-Armenians Established last year, the scholarship allows Syrian-Armenian students now living in Armenia to enroll in any two courses offered by AUA Extension for free. The majority of these students have taken courses in English or preparatory courses for the TOEFL IBT and GRE exams required for admission to AUA. “By offering these classes, free of charge, AUA is able to provide some stability to these students at a time of uncertainty in their lives,” said Dr. Arpie Balian, Director of AUA Extension. “The program we developed provides tuition-free courses in both our degree programs as well as in Extension.” AUA Extension’s mission is to expand Armenia’s academic, industrial, and technological development by fostering growth through accessible, high-quality education, adult training and lifelong learning opportunities. To support the expansion of AUA Extension and this vital scholarship program, please visit In 1989, since the idea of a western-style university in Armenia was proposed, AGBU has been a major supporter of the American University of Armenia. Since opening its doors on September 21, 1991, AUA provided graduate level degrees to over 2200 students. In 2013, AUA will begin offering undergraduate degrees as well. The American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia. Founded in 1991, AUA is affiliated with the University of California. Through teaching, research, and public service, AUA serves Armenia and the region by supplying high-quality, graduate and undergraduate education, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting democratic values. The American University of Armenia became a reality thanks to the steadfast support of the Armenian and United States governments and two major institutions in the United States: the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the University of California (UC).

AGBU PAPAZIAN LIBRARY AT AUA RECEIVES 100-VOLUME AMERICAN LITERATURE COLLECTION The AGBU Papazian Library recently received a generous donation of a 100-volume collection of prominent American literature published by the of Library of America. “We would like to thank the donor Jeannette Sarkisian Wagner for providing the complete collection to be used by the AUA community,” said Bella Avagyan, the library’s director. Since The Library of America’s inception, it has come to be recognized by both scholars and the general public as the national edition of American literature. The company helps preserve the nation’s cultural heritage by publishing America’s best and most significant writing in durable and authoritative editions.

100-Volume American Literature Collection Donated to AGBU Papazian Library at AUA

The AGBU Papazian Library at the American University of Armenia is a modern, state-of-the-art research facility that serves over 12,000 patrons throughout the Republic of Armenia. The library is home to over 42,000 volumes of books and over 65,000 online journals and is equipped with individual study carrels, group study rooms, 35 computer workstations, and both wired and wireless internet access.

Page 5


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

JAMANAK DAILY’S 105TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATED IN ISTANBUL Events celebrating the 105th anniversary of Istanbul-based Jamanak, the longest, continuously-running, Armenian language daily newspaper in the world, culminated with a symposium entitled New Reality of Minorities: Future Horizons for the Armenian Community in Turkey. Speakers from Armenia, France, Greece, Turkey, Portugal and the United States came together on Saturday, May 25, 2013 at the SALT Galata Auditorium, to address an audience numbering close to 200. Panel discussions, followed by Q&A sessions, were held on the following three broad topics: Transformation of Non-Muslim Minorities' Agenda in Turkey, New Perception of Minority Rights and Minorities' Heritage Consciousness, and Shaping the New Armenian Identity. Ara Kochounian, Jamanak Editor-in-Chief since 1992, welcomed guests, before inviting AGBU President Berge Setrakian to give his remarks, which included a frank (l-r) Director of Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Dr. Razmik Panossian, Editor-in-Chief of assessment of some of the challenges facing Armenians Nor Haratch newspaper Jirair Tcholakian, Professor Kevork Bardakjian, around the world today. University of Michigan, AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian, and Professor of History Harutyun Marutyan, Historian

During the panel entitled Shaping the New Armenian Identity, AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian spoke of some of the issues and options facing Armenians today, especially Diasporan youth. For example, she addressed the dangers of assimilation, loss of language, and the need for real communication between the Diaspora and those living in Armenia. She stressed that opportunities that AGBU provides, such as Discover Armenia, Musical Armenia Program, Yerevan Summer Internship Program, and AGBU's Armenian Virtual College's classes in language, (l-r) Editor-in-Chief of Jamanak Newspaper Ara Kochounian, Surb Prkich history, culture and more, are just a few of the options of- Armenian Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees Vice-President Krikor fered to youth which contribute to strengthening our na- Doshemejian, AGBU President Berge Setrakian, Mrs. Vera Setrakian, and AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian tion.

PAYING TRIBUTE TO THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE VICTIMS Annually, on April 24th, Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) members around the world commemorate the Armenian Genocide. In Armenia, AGBU members visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial to honor the 1.5 million innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide. This year, AGBU Yerevan-based Members, Staff, Scouts and Young Professionals marched to the Genocide Memorial on Tsitsernakabert Hill in Yerevan.

AGBU Armenia Members, Staff and Friends at Tsitsernakabert

Led by AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian, former AGBU Western District Committee Chairman Haig Messerlian and AGBU Diaspora Youth Programs Coordinator in Armenia HerminĂŠ Duzian, and carrying the flags of the Republic of Armenia and AGBU Scout Movement, the group laid a wreath and flowers at the Eternal Flame to honor the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Page 6


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

INTERNATIONAL DELEGATION COMMEMORATES THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE IN ISTANBUL AND YEREVAN An unprecedented joint delegation of AGBU Europe and EGAM - European Grassroots Antiracist Movement - comprised of 20 people from 15 European countries, gathered in Istanbul to commemorate the Armenian Genocide of 1915. They were invited by DurDe! (Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism), a Turkish organization that has been commemorating the Armenian Genocide for the past four years. On April 24, symbolically at 19:15, up to 2,000 Turks, Armenians and others peacefully gathered at Istanbul's centrally-located Taksim Square in an emotional moment of mourning, commemoration and solidarity. Earlier in the day, they also gathered outside the former Sultanahmed Prison (now a museum), where Armenian intellectuals, professionals and others arrested on April 24,

Armenian Genocide Commemorated in Istanbul’s Taksim Square

1915, were first jailed, before being taken away and murdered. A strong police presence kept watch as a small gathering of protesters shouted nationalist slogans nearby. These events were organized by DurDe! and IHD, a Turkish Human Rights Association. The international delegation, organized and led by EGAM and AGBU Europe, included leading International Delegation Visits Tsitsernakabert European activists against racism as well as young Armenian leaders. In the days leading up to the April 24 commemoration in Istanbul, delegation members held numerous meetings, a press conference and a conference at Şehir University to explain their views and actions, as well as to learn about developments in Turkey relating to the recognition of the Genocide and the treatment of minorities. EGAM President Benjamin Abtan said his visit was intended primarily as an expression of support for those in Turkey who are fighting against racism. "Genocide is the worst expression of racism," he said. "Genocide denial is a continuation of the crime of genocide". On April 25, at the invitation of AGBU-Armenia, a small group of delegates traveled to Yerevan to commemorate the Armenian Genocide together and share their experience in Istanbul with the Armenian public. The delegation members - EGAM's Abtan, AGBU Europe Board Member Nicolas Tavitian and DurDe! Representative Yildiz Önen - laid a wreath at the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan and met with Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Director Hayk Demoyan. They also held a press conference and met with representatives of non-governmental organizations involved in Armenia-Turkish relations at the AGBU Armenia offices. The Delegation's activities in Istanbul and Yerevan received ample coverage in the Turkish, Armenian and European press. An appeal, issued by the organizers and signed by well-known figures in Europe, was published in the European press shortly before April 24. Tatevik Baghdasaryan, host of Armnews talk show Manramasner, interviewed DurDe! Representative Yildiz Onen and AGBU Europe Board Member Nicolas Tavitian. AGBU Europe Board Member Nicolas Tavitian said, "After the assassination of Hrant Dink in 2007, many Turks realized that the Armenian Genocide continues to kill, and that its continued denial is toxic for Turkish democracy." He added, "Courageous people have started to push in the right direction, and their numbers are growing. But their struggle is not over and they need all the support they can get. That is why we were in Istanbul, and why we look forward to many more joining us next year". For her part, the AGBU Yerevan Office Director Arpi Vartanian said, "It was important for representatives of AGBU Europe, DurDe and EGAM to visit Yerevan and present in person their initiatives and impressions in Turkey. The people in Armenia are interested in learning about Genocide recognition events outside Armenia, and (l-r) Nicolas Tavitian, Yildiz Onen, Benjamin Abtan especially in Turkey," she said. "The opportunity to discuss and share with the press and members of civil society here was important. These types of events and initiatives - both in Turkey and in Armenia - make a huge impact on civil society." For videos, please visit: International Delegation Commemorates Armenian Genocide (ArmNews TV) Manramasner (Details) program hosts Nicolas Tavitian and Yildiz Onen (ArmNews TV) or

Page 7


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AGBU ARMENIAN VIRTUAL COLLEGE AT GIRLS IN ICT INTERNATIONAL FORUM The 21st century is the Age of Techology, as computers and hi-tech dominate every aspect of life today. However, the global mass computerization is believed to have started nearly 200 years ago with the pioneer being a female mathematician Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Byron. The international Girls in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) Day, celebrated on April 25 this year, aims to involve more women and girls in the IT sphere. The Girls in ICT event in Armenia was held by Women and Information Society NGO, headed by Founder and President Narine Abazyan. “The growing IT sector in Armenia can be a brilliant career choice for many Armenian women.” This was the message of the conference held at the American University of Armenia (AUA), where AGBU’s Armenian Virtual College (AVC) participated as a successful and purely technology-based company. Outstanding women from leading hi-tech companies presented their success stories to 200 young girls from 18 schools and universities.

AGBU AVC Administrative Director Anna Yengibaryan

Making a Presentation at the Girls in ICT International Forum Opening remarks were delivered by AUA President Dr. Bruce Boghosian, US Agency for International Development (USAID) Armenia Mission Director Ms. Karen Hilliard, and others.

Anna Yengibaryan, Administrative Director of AGBU Armenian Virtual College, described some of the success AVC has achieved due to the advancements in ICT and also shared her personal experiences in building a career in ICT. “The doors of our university are never closed,” she said, focusing on the benefits of e-learning and its complete availability anywhere and anytime. “Had there not been such rapid developments in this sector, we would not have been able to implement AVC as a state-ofthe-art project.” Yengibaryan also stated that to be strategically strong, AVC follows current trends in ICT and strives to hire the best, skilled ICT specialists. “The sphere’s potential grows exponentially, whereas women’s interest in this sector is decreasing,” she commented. To encourage young women to more actively and prudently choose a profession, she illustrated her personal career experience, “With my background in Applied Mathematics, I was disappointed in seeing the black, silent screens of computers when I began my career. But with the rapid and sophisticated IT development, and then the working environments and Computer and Information Sciences (CIS) courses at AUA, brilliant career opportunities were opened, making it all fun.” Yengibaryan concluded with an observation about the balance between the number of men and women in the workplace, “These teams, as a rule, prove to be more creative, efficient and motivated. So ladies, don’t miss the chance to fill the gap of vacancies in the ICT sector. Tech needs girls.” The unique and innovative approach of the AGBU Armenian Virtual College stood out at the conference, generating curiosity about the company’s mission and tech-based activities. At the end of the conference, the event organizers announced the three successful business women in Armenia’s ICT sphere: Marie Lou Papazian from Tumo Center for Creative Technologies, Anna Yengibaryan from AGBU Armenian Virtual College, and Yeva Hyusyan from Microsoft Innovation Center of Armenia.

200 Young Women Participated in the Forum

For videos, please visit: AGBU AVC at Girls in ICT Forum Girls in ICT International Forum (ArmNews TV) or

_______________________________________________ The AVC project was founded in 2004 by Dr. Yervant Zorian, Chairman of AGBU’s Silicon Valley Chapter. He had long noted the need for an educational program that better addressed the current demands of the Armenian nation in the Diaspora and Homeland. Through the use of both synchronous and asynchronous online communications, AVC allows students to learn new material at their own pace, but also to confer face-to-face with their virtual teachers and classmates. With the latest advances in the world of virtual education, AVC’s mission is, in addition, to create a virtual learning community that can foster both the cultural education and social communication otherwise out of the reach of most Armenian students across the globe. See more at:

Page 8


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AGBU ARMENIAN VIRTUAL COLLEGE TRIP TO TBILISI, GEORGIA The AGBU Armenian Virtual College (AVC) has intensively been expanding its curricula by enriching its programs with interesting educational and entertaining social and cultural events. One such event recently took place during an AVC visit to Tbilisi, Georgia. AVC online instructors visited Armenian cultural centers, met AVC partners and students, and prepared materials for virtual tours to be presented to AVC students in the future. On May 10, AVC instructors visited Hayartun, the cultural, educational and youth center of the Diocese of Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Holy Echmiadzin situated in Avlabari, Tbilisi. Hayartun plays a significant role for the Georgian-Armenian community, the members of which are very active and remain faithful to their national values and language. It is not by chance that Hayartun has actively implementated AVC’s Hybrid School programs in Tbilisi. The AVC office in Hayartun center of Tbilisi was established on October 8, 2011. The official opening of the AVC Lab in Tbilisi took place in February 2012. Ms. Yevgenya Markosyan, the pre-school education coordinator and AVC Hybrid School teacher in Tbilisi, shared her thoughts about AVC’s role and activities in the center of HaAGBU AVC Team in Mtskheta, Georgia yartun, about the learning processes and successes stating that, “The Georgian Armenians today mainly speak Russian or Georgian and there was a great deal of enthusiasm when AVC Hybrid School program was introduced in Tbilisi.” Markosyan spoke of Hayartun’s and AVC’s plans for future collaboration: “Soon, we hope to have a new and more convenient AVC classroom in the Hovhannes Toumanyan Museum and continue the already-established nice traditions of the hybrid school in Tbilisi.” The representatives of the Cultural Center and the Director of Hayartun Levon Chidilyan and some AVC students welcomed the AVC team in the Center and expressed their gratitude to AVC. Angela Sarkisyan, an AVC student, noted, “We are very grateful to AVC for helping us develop, maintain and revitalize our Armenian identity by enhancing our knowledge of Armenian Language, History and Culture. This is so important here as many Armenians don’t even speak Armenian.” The AVC team visited several Armenian Churches and other cultural centers, including the Armenian Pantheon of Tbilisi also known as Khojivank, an architectural complex in the northeastern part of Avlabari, Tbilisi. In the evening, the AVC team attended a concert dedicated to the celebration of Shushi’s Liberation and WWII Victory days. The concert was held at the Art Hall of Tbilisi. AVC’s mission is to provide Armenian education to anyone and anywhere. Through pure online teaching or blended, hybrid methods, AVC reaches students in all corners of the world.

AGBU YOUTH PROGRAMS PRESENTED TO DELEGATES OF THE PAN-ARMENIAN YOUTH FORUM A pan-Armenian youth forum entitled The Armenian Language is in My Heart, organized by the RA Ministry of Diaspora, took place at the RA Government Session Hall on April 22. The forum brought together nearly 500 young Armenians from 30 countries. RA Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan delivered her opening remarks, followed by RA President Serzh Sargsyan’s welcoming message. Bishop Gevork Saroyan shared the patriarchal blessing of His Holiness Karekin II. AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian was among the speakers, representing various local and Diasporan organizations and forum delegations, who addressed the audience. On April 23, as part of the thematic panel discussions held during the forum, Herminé Duzian, AGBU Diaspora Youth Programs Coordinator in Armenia, presented AGBU’s summer Herminé Duzian Presenting AGBU Youth Programs youth programs in Armenia to the delegates of the panArmenian forum. Printed booklets and posters about AGBU youth programs were distributed. Mrs. Duzian presented a powerful PowerPoint presentation, encouraging Diasporan youth to visit their homeland through any of the various programs offered by AGBU, thereby becoming more involved in shaping a prosperous and free homeland. Page 9


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

ARMENIA’S REGIONS BECOME MORE COMPETITIVE WITH YEREVAN AGBU-Funded 7thRepublican Interschool Chess Tournament Finals in Tsaghkadzor Between May 7-10, the 7th Republican Interschool Chess Tournament finals were held at the Writers’ House Resort in Tsaghkadzor. Eight months ago, 5,000 participants, from schools in Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh and Georgia began competing. After eight months, 72 participants (18 teams of 4 participants each) had reached the finals. These teams gathered in Tsaghkadzor to compete for the title of the Best Chess School Team of the 7th tournament and the awards provided by the Chess Academy of Armenia and AGBU, a long-time and proud tournament sponsor. In addition to the daily play-off games, the Chess Academy of Armenia organized educational visits for the young chess players to various areas of interest in and around Tsaghkadzor.

School Chess Tournament Finals in Tsaghkadzor

Young Competitor Contemplating Her Next Move

To reach the final phase, participants go through four challenging rounds, with winners advancing to the next level. Phase I involves competitions held within individual schools. In Phase II, winning teams within the same community compete. In Phase III, winning teams from different communities but within the same region participate. And lastly, the finalists reach the Phase IV national competitions. Each team consists of four participants (3 boys and 1 girl). This year’s title was won by the Artashat High School team with Hrayr Hovhanissyan, Yura Ghazaryan, Narek Dzoyan, Karine Vardanyan, led by Coach Mikayel Martirossyan. All members of the winning team received mini-iPads from AGBU. Members of Yerevan Schools #2 and #54 teams, which placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively, were given monetary prizes by AGBU. Arpi Vartanian, AGBU-Armenia Director delivered AGBU’s prizes. Smbat Lputyan, Grandmaster and President of the Chess Academy of Armenia, awarded trophies, ribbons, certificates and other prizes to the winners. Individuals were singled out for outstanding achievements. The top individual winners were Hrayr Hovhanissyan and Narek Dzoyan (Artashat high school), Eduard Mkrtchyan (Abovyan High School #4), and Susanna Gaboyan (Yerevan High School #2). “I am very happy for the Artashat team. This means that the chess teams in Armenia’s regions are becoming more active and competitive with the Yerevan teams,” said Mr. Lputyan.

Winners of the Tournament, the Artashat Team, with AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian and Chess Academy President Smbat Lputyan

“When we first began sponsoring this tournament, our goal was to provide all the schools of Armenia with chess boards and clocks, chess literature and other things necessary to hold this tournament. Today, thanks to AGBU, this issue is 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Winners at Tsaghkadzor Writers’ House resolved. Now, with other goals, the prizes are different too, more personal and attractive,” said Inessa Margaryan, AGBU Armenia Special Projects Coordinator. Since its inception in 2008, the Republican Interschool Chess Tournament, an initiative of the Armenian Chess Federation, under the auspices of the Republic of Armenia's Ministry of Education and Science, has produced many players who have graduated to the professional level and have taken home prestigious awards from Armenia's Youth Chess Championship, the Republic of Armenia Chess Championship and the international Vladimir Dvorkovich Cup in Moscow. AGBU has been a tournament sponsor for the past six consecutive years. For videos please visit: 7th Republican School Chess Tournament (ArmNews TV) or

Page 10


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

US AMBASSADOR AND MRS. HEFFERN VISIT AGBU HYE GEEN PREGNANT WOMEN'S CENTER IN TALIN On Saturday, May 18, US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern, his wife Mrs. Libby Heffern, Former Chairman of the AGBU Western District Committee of California Haig Messerlian and AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian visited the AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center in Talin. During the Ambassador's Diaspora Tour in the USA last December, Ms. Sona Yacoubian, Chairperson and Founder of AGBU Hye Geen Southern California, invited Ambassador and Mrs. Heffern to visit the AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Centers in Armenia and meet the expectant mothers to better understand the realities facing women and their families in Armenia's regions today. Ms. Yacoubian remarked, "The AGBU Hye Geen Committee welcomes the interest and the appreciation shown by Ambassador and Mrs. Heffern. We consider the Pregnant Women Centers in Armenia a priority. Healthy newborns and healthy, educated mothers are essential to safeguard the future of our homeland. I also thank Haig Messerlian and Arpi Vartanian for their assistance in arranging this visit."

Women at Hye Geen Center Listen to the US Ambassador

Messerlian, Vartanian and Ani Aslanian, Project Coordinator of the AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center in Talin, described the Center's activities, accomplishments and challenges. The 20 mothers-to-be were delighted to share their impressions and have a frank discussion about their everyday challenges. Ambassador and Mrs. Heffern, proud parents of five children and grandparents to one child, welcomed the opportunity to interact with the women, learn about their concerns, and share their experience and ideas. To date, AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center in Talin has served close to 160 women and their healthy babies. Mrs. Libby Heffern said, "It was wonderful to see so many Talin women actively participating in the center. I really believe that proper prenatal care is the most precious gift for their children." Several constructive suggestions were offered. AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center Talin is already exploring ways to turn those ideas into reality.

"Thanks to the Armenian General Benevolent Union for its great work in Armenia. Its Women Centers all over the country are prime examples of what AGBU does for the Armenian people. Libby and I had a heartwarming visit to the center in Talin, where we met two dozen pregnant women and discussed their lives, families, challenges and opportunities", US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern

Messerlian, Vartanian and Aslanian thanked Ambassador and Mrs. Heffern for their visit and enthusiasm, and expressed appreciation for their support to Armenia and the Armenian people. Messerlian added that their meaningful visit and conversation with the participants meant a great deal and would be remembered by all for years to come. The first AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center in Armenia was established in 2002, in Gyumri, with the goal of improving the health of pregnant women and reducing infant mortality rates and complicated pregnancies. In 2006, the second Center was opened in Vanadzor. In 2009, the Talin Center was established, replacing the Gyumri Center. In 2011, the Nora Injijian Center was launched in Yeghvard. Most recently, the Arshagouhi Tavitian Center was opened in 2012 in Yerevan. Maintaining a constant number of 20 pregnant women per site, the Centers have become a place for women to discuss concerns, receive medical exams & pre-natal care, learn through individual and group consultations with experts and form long-lasting bonds with one another. These Centers have become possible through the efforts of AGBU Southern California Hye Geen Southern California. To date, the Centers have Expectant Mothers with Haig Messerlian, Mrs. Libby Heffern (front, kneeling), served over 1,400 healthy babies and mothers. For more US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern (standing, front, center), information about Hye Geen, visit AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian (standing, third from right) and Ani Aslanyan (far right), Coordinator of AGBU Hye Geen Center in Talin

Page 11


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AGBU’S MUSICAL ARMENIA PROGRAM IN YEREVAN WELCOMES APPLICATIONS FOR ITS SECOND SUMMER SESSION AGBU’s Performing Arts Department is still receiving applications for Musical Armenia Program (MAP), a three-week summer program in Yerevan, Armenia, from July 15th to August 4th. Successfully launched last year, MAP offers Master Classes and lessons in the applicant’s area of expertise. Classes for Western classical and Armenian traditional instruments as well as voice, conducting and composition are taught by experts and well-known musicians. Specialized lectures include the history of Armenian music throughout different periods and across genres – classical, contemporary, jazz, medieval, minstrel, Soviet – and the ancient music notational system, khaz, which was of great interest to Komitas, the preeminent master of Armenian music. Whether their passions lie in singing, the piano or string instruments, MAP participants, benefiting from private training by experts, are sure to enhance their talents during the program. In addition to classes, the musicians attend concerts, visit local institutions such as the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory and Sayat Nova Music School, as well as museums, including the Aram Khachaturian Museum and Alexander Spendiaryan Museum. Social activities, sightseeing and excursions to historic landmarks complete the experience. MAP participants conclude their three-week stay in our homeland by performing side by side with their peers and teachers at the MAP gala concert. Last summer, while participating in MAP 2012, pianist Shoushy Nakashian and violinist David Melkonian, both from Syria, were invited to participate in the celebrated Im Hayasdan (My Armenia) Festival of Armenian Performing Arts, held under the patronage of Armenia’s Ministry of Diaspora. “My experience in Armenia as part of MAP last summer was truly unforgettable and provided me with many exciting opportunities,” said percussionist and composer Joseph Bohigian from USA. “Being able to study and perform my own music in Armenia and learn about the country's wealth of musical culture has greatly expanded my approach to writing and playing music. I made many friends with whom I explored the country and I look forward to returning to Armenia in the future.” The AGBU Musical Armenia Program is open to applicants ages 18 and older who have training in vocal, instrumental (piano, violin, cello, duduk, percussion, horn, guitar, etc.), conducting or composition studies. For more details and an application form, please visit

ARNI GUIRAGOSSIAN: “AGBU’S MUSICAL ARMENIA PROGRAM WAS A TURNING POINT IN MY LIFE” The Summer of 2012 marked an important turning point in Arni Guiragossian's life. Her participation in the Musical Armenia Program, organized by AGBU, opened new horizons for the flutist from the High Institute of Music in Damascus, Syria. Arni had very high expectations of the Musical Armenia Program. However, the reality far exceeded them. Experiencing the beauty of her homeland, the rich lessons and lectures, unique concerts and the warm and encouraging environment created by the teachers and organizers, helped Arni reach an important life-altering decision: she decided to move to Armenia. Today, Arni is a third year flute student at the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, an active member at the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia and a first place winner at this year’s 5th International Gyumri Renaissance Music Festival. On June 6, she performed with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra in Sabre Dance on the Street, an event sponsored by AGBU, organized by Emporium and which took place at the Cascade Complex and Cafesjian Sculpture Garden. The event celebrated renowned Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian's 110th birthday. Arni loves to share her experience with young Armenian musicians all over the world, and encourages them to take advantage of and participate in the amazing and unforgettable AGBU Musical Armenia Program, in their beautiful homeland. Arni Guiragossian

Page 12


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

UFAR STUDENTS RETURN FROM AGBU FRANCE INTERNSHIP From March 25 to April 21, eleven 4th year students from the French University in Armenia (UFAR) interned at different companies in Lyon, Paris and Valence thanks to the support of both AGBU’s France District and Lyon Chapter, as well as the chapter’s former Vice Chair Jacques Garabedian. Yevgine Ter-Ohanyan, a law major, interned at the law firm of Estrade, Azad and Harutyunyan in Paris, providing her a unique opportunity to visit the Justice Chamber of Paris, attend different courts and be present at various court hearings. “I worked with professionals, met with lawyers and advocates, learned many nuances of the law, and gained new skills. This was a great opportunity to compare the juridical and legal systems of Armenia and France. I am grateful to AGBU for this wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she says. Financial management major Lilit Arzoyan is pursuing a career in accounting and interned at Grant Thornton Specialist Advisory Services Department in Paris. “It is hard for me to find words to express how important this internship was for me. Being part of such a professional team and working with such specialists gave me the opportunity to become more faUFAR Students’ Reception at Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University miliar with the bookkeeping of companies operating in different sectors. Each day presented a fresh opportunity to learn and do something new. The knowledge and experience I gained in Paris is a huge incentive to build my professional career here in Armenia,” Lilit said. Ani Galstyan interned at Voyage Loisirs, a Paris-based tourism agency. With about 50 million tourists annually, Paris is the third most-visited city in the world. “I am proud. I am proud as a student, as my parents’ child and as a citizen of my country. I returned from Paris with a greater feeling of responsibility towards myself and my country and with a deeper understanding of how I can be useful to my homeland. I clearly see my role in building a prosperous and competitive future for Armenia. For all this, I am thankful to the Armenian General Benevolent Union,” said Ani. The partnership between AGBU France and UFAR dates back to 2004, when the AGBU France District arranged the first contingent of UFAR interns in Paris. Since then, 73 of the best students have conducted 4-6-week internships in Grenoble, Lyon, Paris and Valence, thanks to AGBU’s complete financial support. Participants had the opportunity to practice the French language and culture of everyday life, facilitated by a full itinerary of activities, including visits to the French National Assembly, the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh in Paris, the AGBU Nubarian Library, the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre and the Orsay Museum. The Lyon program included theater performances, concerts and tours. Following his recent visit to France and meeting with AGBU France leaders and staff, The Interns Speak with AGBU Nubarian UFAR Rector Jean-Jacques Montois expressed his gratitude to AGBU by praising Library Curator Dr. Boris Ajemian “the extraordinary welcome given to the students” and “the exemplary daily supervision” of their internship and activities. “Without AGBU’s support and that of the French Armenian communities, it would be difficult to achieve UFAR’s mission of promoting French culture and offering the professional experience that UFAR students need to acquire in order to be Armenia’s valid economic, political and cultural future interlocutors of France.” Upon their return from France, the Paris interns visited AGBU Yerevan to express their gratitude and describe their experiences in the heart of Europe. They also stated their interest in continuing their relationship with AGBU. Since 2007, UFAR students have been receiving AGBU scholarships based on merit and need. More than 120 students have benefited from these scholarships, which entirely cover their annual tuition fees. AGBU also funded the renovation and construction of a library at UFAR, inaugurated officially last October during the AGBU General Assembly in Armenia. UFAR Students at AGBU Yerevan after Their Return from Paris AGBU gratefully acknowledges the network of companies and institutions that provide the internships, as well as the Rhône-Alpes Region and the City of Lyon, and the Bullukian Foundation for its financial support. For more information about AGBU’s Internship Programs, please visit Page 13


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AGBU YP YEREVAN TEAM SUMS UP THE PAST, PLANS THE FUTURE Open House and a New Series of Meetings and Training Seminars On April 8, AGBU Yerevan Young Professionals (YP) organized an Open House at the AGBU Armenia Representation to sum up past activities, present current and future plans, and recruit new members. Harutyun Poghosyan, President of AGBU YP Yerevan, welcomed the group and presented the YP mission and past, current and upcoming initiatives. YP Steering Committee Member Narek Ghazaryan spoke about an upcoming event, a three month seminar on Banking and Finance. YPs also presented the Barekamavan Village (Tavush Region) Development Project. Launched in 2011, the program soon became an AGBU pan-YP project, touching the lives of families living on Armenia’s borders. About 50 people, interested in AGBU YP, joining the ever-growing network of YPs around the world, and YP Open House at AGBU Yerevan Office becoming a part of a movement committed to making a personal investment in Armenia, attended the Open House. The evening provided a great opportunity for the participants to broaden their network and share new ideas. BANKING AND FINANCE The Banking and Finance Seminar began just two weeks after the Open House. The 25 young people participating are all students or graduates of different universities in Armenia. The seminar includes topics such as various financial systems, the role of financial systems in the development of economies, structures of central banks, trade banks and their role in financial systems, marketing relations, retail and corporate finance, and reasons for the current global financial crisis. The main goal of the seminar is to provide participants important practical and theoretical knowledge of the banking and financial sector, to raise their competitiveness in the current labor market. Top specialists in the field have been invited to take part in the lectures, and provide a networking opportunity for participants. The group has established an online page, through which 25 Students Registered for the New Banking and Finance Seminar participants communicate, discuss and exchange opinions with one another. They can also post the results of their studies and evaluate different aspects of the course. MEETING WITH KAREN BEKARYAN Another recent YP Yerevan initiative was the May 22 meeting with Mr. Karen Bekaryan, President of European Integration NGO. YPs, students and representatives from the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs participated in the active discussions regarding the NKR conflict settlement, challenges, and current issues about Armenia’s integration in the European Union. Mr. Bekaryan thoughtfully and compreshensively answered the many questions posed by the audience and YPs expressed their sincere gratitude to Mr. Bekaryan for his time and knowledge. Bekaryan Presents Current Issues of Armenia’s European Integration

Page 14

For videos, please visit: AGBU YP Yerevan Open House (ArmNews TV) or


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AGBU SUPPORTS FAMILIES IN BORDER VILLAGES OF ARMENIA AGBU YPs Worldwide Join AGBU YP Yerevan Initiative AGBU YP Yerevan’s Barekamavan Development Project (BDP) is growing. The program, which provides greenhouses to selected families in Barekamavan Village, located in Armenia’s Tavush region, caught the attention and hearts of the worldwide AGBU YP network. Shortly thereafter, it became a pan-YP project. Today, with over 7,000 USD raised, AGBU YP Yerevan continues to implement the program. Barekamavan is less than 2 km from the Azerbaijani border. Currently, five greenhouses have been distributed in Barekamavan. As a result, five families now have a stable source of income and can provide for their families’ daily bread. AGBU YPs provide seeds, seedlings, fertilizers, other agricultural materials and even organize specialized seminars. YPs regularly visit the village, often inviting agricultural specialists with them for consultations with the villagers, as greenhouse cultivation methods are relatively new for the villagers. During a visit to Barekamavan on June 1, YPs were joined by Paul and Isabelle Manouk from Northern Ireland. In 2011, when the project was still being developed, the Armenian communities of Dubai and Dublin were among the first to lend a helping hand. Today, two years after the launch of the program, the Manouk family decided to visit the village to see with their own eyes the results of their endowments. One of the Five Greenhouses in Barekamavan “It’s just wonderful to see the results. In Dublin, people sometimes ask ’what happened to the money we donated?’ This is what happened, people found hope for the future,” said Isabelle Manouk. Life goes on in Barekamavan. People are enjoying the first harvest of the season and treat their visitors to the fruits of their labor. But Barekamavan is only the beginning. Next, YPs plan to focus on Berkaber, a neighboring village, interested in developing greenhouse cultivation. Sahman (Border) NGO, established by AGBU YPs Two Berkaber families currently have accepted experimental greenhouses. Families were selected by YPs, taking into account a number of factors, including needs, number of family members, readiness and ability to commit to the project, and more. The goal of this initiative is to create stable sources of income for the villagers so they can earn a living in their village, thereby not feeling compelled to leave the village and go elsewhere to earn a living. The Barekamavan Development Project is the initiative of 3 repatriates: Gayane Gevorgyan, AGBU YP Yerevan Steering Committee Member, Anna Aghajanian, AGBU YP Yerevan Liaison and George Tabakyan, former AGBU YP UAE Member. Upon hearing about Barekamavan, and following their first visit to this border village less than 2km from the Azerbaijan border, they were determined that something had to be done to help the patriotic, and honest people of Barekamavan, who, despite being faced with the daily threat of Azeri sniper bullets, refuse to leave their village and abandon this strategically important outpost. A seedling of an idea blossomed and took shape with the help of those who believed in the ideas and passion with which they were undertaken. First to lend their support were the Armenian communities of Dublin and Dubai, whose donations were used to build the first two, 100m2 greenhouses. Among the supEnjoying the First Harvest of the Season porters of the initiative were the Armenia Tree Project, Institute for Political and Sociological Consulting (IPSC) and, of course, AGBU. A successful start made the YPs think about developing the initiative into a major project involving the worldwide AGBU YP network for the development of other border villages of Armenia. The initiators hope to find more support among Armenian and Diasporan organizations and individuals to finish what they’ve started and ensure secure borders for our country. For more information on the Barekamavan Development Project, please visit For videos, please visit: AGBU Pan-YP program (ArmNews TV) or

Page 15


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AGBU YEREVAN SCOUTS: NEW SPRING INITIATIVES The annual Antranik Scout Camp is probably the most anticipated summer event for members of the AGBU Yerevan Scout Movement. However, besides this camp, when AGBU Scouts from around the world gather in northern Armenia, Yerevan Scouts also organize three or four-day camping trips in the spring and autumn. The most recent of these took place between May 9-12 at the Yerevan Scout’s campsite in Lori Region’s, Lermontovo Village. Early in the morning, a group of 90 Yerevan Scouts and Rovers gathered at the AGBU and Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Arabkir Children’s Center, where regular weekend Scout meetings are 4-Day Spring Camping Trip in Lermontovo AGBU Scout Camp, Lori Region, Armenia held. Everyone was impatient and the symbolism of victory day doubled the enthusiasm. After a 3-hour drive, the campers eagerly prepared their campsite: the older Scouts set up tents and the Brownies cleaned the kitchen. Together, they prepared a meal, before beginning their scouting lessons and exercises. In the evening, everyone gathered around the campfire to talk, sing and relax. The scouts began making the huge scout mast of rope and wood. By morning it was ready with flags waving from it. Throughout the long weekend, Scouts hiked, played games and learned more about the Scout Movement. These camps provide wonderful opportunities for the Scouts to practice their knowledge and gain new skills. Since their return to Yerevan, the Scouts have been busily preparing for the Antranik Scout Camp, their main event of the year. The first session will take place between July 13-25, with around 140 Scouts from Armenia, Georgia, Iran and Lebanon. The second session will run from July 26-August 5; over 140 Scouts from Armenia, Georgia and Syria are expected.


VISIT TO RETIREMENT HOME In addition to the camps, AGBU Yerevan Scouts organize and participate in other projects and events. On April 7, on the occasion of Mothers’ and Beauty Day, the Scouts, besides congratulating their female relatives, did not forget about the elderly, who, perhaps had no one to congratulate them on that beautiful holiday. AGBU Yerevan Scouts visited a retirement home in Yerevan’s Bangladesh district to congratulate the women there and make them feel special. AGBU scouts took the time to talk with and listen to those living in the retirement home. The residents described their lives, traditions and daily problems. They shared their concerns and enhanced the scouts’ knowledge and skills with their interesting stories and advice. AGBU Scouts at a Yerevan Retirement Home for War Veterans The Scouts departed, having filled the hearts of the residents with enthusiasm and happiness. These amazing people, who have survived war, starvation and suffering but still have faith in life, were grateful for the visit.

SCOUT MAGAZINE Since March 2013, AGBU Yerevan Scouts have published three issues of the monthly Scout magazine. The 12-page magazine informs readers about AGBU Yerevan Scout activities, teaches scouting skills, national and patriotic songs, and includes interesting historical information about the Armenian people and the international scout movement. AGBU Yerevan Scout movement celebrates its 5th anniversary this year. Page 16


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AGBU YEREVAN SCOUTS... HIKING TRIPS Hiking trips are eagerlyanticipated events for the Scouts. In May and April, AGBU Yerevan Scouts hiked up Mount Ara and to the Amberd Fortress. Although hikes up Mount Ara have become traditional for the Scouts, they are different each time since each group is new and has new expectations. On April 14, a group of 45 Scouts once again left Yerevan to conquer Mount Ara, the second highest mountain in Armenia (2,577m). They started from the AGBU-Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Arabkir Children’s Center On Top of Mount Ara early in the morning by bus and reached the foot of the mountain an hour later. Upon first glance, the majestic and massive mountain appeared to be impossible to conquer. But hours later, and with much perserverance, the Scouts reached their goal. They had chosen to climb the left peak of the mountain, which is higher and more difficult to overcome. At the peak, they were pleasantly surprised to meet members of the Armenian Alpinists Union there. Taking advantage of the opportunity, they spent some time talking with them and learned new techniques from the more experienced climbers. The Armenian national and AGBU flags, placed by the Scouts, once again waved at the peak of Mount Ara. Tired, but proud of what they accomplished, the Scouts returned to Yerevan to relax and prepare for the next hike. Just two weeks later, early in the morning of April 28, AGBU Junior Cubscouts, headed by General Leader of the Scouts Kevork Simonyan, and other members started a journey to the southern foot of Aragats Mountain, in Amberd. Executives of AGBU Aleppo Scouts group also joined them. Amberd lies at the crossing of the Arkashen and Amberd Rivers, near the famous Byurakan Observatory, in the Aragatsotn region. It is 2,300 meters high and was still snowcovered in late April. During the hike up the mountain, the group of AGBU Cubscouts in Amberd and Tarapurak 35 people visited the remains of the 10th century Amberd Fortress and the nearby Vahramashen Church. On the way back they also visited Tarapurak. In recent years, Tarapurak, a park with giant-size letters of the Armenian alphabet, has become a favorite place for Armenian citizens and tourists alike to visit. These hikes are unique tests for the scouts to develop courage and learn how to rely on one another.

NATURE-LOVING SCOUTS One of the creeds that Scouts around the world follow is to show kindness towards animals and nature. True to this principle, AGBU Yerevan Scouts visited Dingo NGO. Stray dogs, many of which have serious injuries, receive care, and find shelter, food and safety at Dingo until good, caring homes are found for the dogs. The Scouts took dog food with them and spent several hours playing with the animals. Dingo representatives taught a class about animal rights and the proper way to feed and care for dogs to ensure their well-being. Senior Scouts who participated in this outing received an Animal Care pin from Dingo, to put on their uniforms

AGBU Yerevan Scouts Taking Care of Animals

Page 17


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

KARABAKH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA PERFORMS IN MOSCOW The Karabakh Chamber Orchestra’s (KCO) fame has extended beyond the borders of NKR and Armenia. Last August, under the initiative of the Fridtjoff Nansen Foundation and with the support of AGBU, KCO performed several concerts in Norway. This year, on April 22, at the invitation of Aram Khachaturian Foundation Director Gagik Gabrielian, the 16-member Karabakh Chamber Orchestra, led by Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Gevork Muradyan, performed at the Large Auditorium of the Central House of Literature in Moscow. The concert was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Gulistan Treaty (1813), WWII Victory Day and the reopening of the restored Shushi Gallery. The evening was organized by the Union of Armenians of Russia and the Permanent Representation of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in Moscow. At the concert, while addressing the audience, Maestro Muradyan thanked AGBU President Berge Setrakian and Karabakh Chamber Orchestra in Moscow NKR Minister of Culture Narine Aghabalian for making this tour possible. AGBU supported the orchestra in traveling to and performing in Moscow. Pianist Anahit Nersisyan, soloists Irina Zakiyan (soprano), Alexander Vardanyan (baritone) and Tsovinar Mnatsakanyan (soprano) from Armenia, as well as Termine Saryan, Sona Arshakyan and the prestigious Gnesinsky Music Academy Choir, under the leadership of Karine Avetisian from Russia, also performed. The concert featured pieces by Khachaturian, Babajanyan, Komitas, Kanachyan, Mirzoyan, Schubert, Bach, Tosti and Curtis. The concert concluded with KCO and all the other perfomers together presenting Charles Aznavour’s famous For You, Armenia. The Aram Khachaturian Foundation was established in 2002 by Karen Khachaturian, the famous composer’s son, President of New Names of Armenia festival Silva Mekinyan and Gagik Gabrielyan, as part of the initiatives celebrating the 100th anniversary of the great composer. The Treaty of Gulistan, a peace accord to end the Russo-Persian War, was signed between Imperial Russia and Persia on October 24, 1813, in the village of Gulistan (in Karabakh’s Shahumian Region). Among other points, this treaty confirmed that Russia took control of all the khanates, including the Karabakh khanate. The Karabakh Chamber Orchestra was established in 2004 by the initiative of then-NKR President Arkady Ghukassian and the financial support of AGBU, which continues to this day. The orchestra has played a huge role in the cultural development of NKR by performing monthly concerts in Stepanakert, bringing together thousands of lovers of classical music in the country.

RENAISSANCE 5th INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL HELD IN GYUMRI The 5th International Renaissance Festival was launched on April 10 in Gyurmi, at the Vardan Ajemian State Drama Theater, under the auspices of RA First Lady Rita Sargsyan. The General Sponsor of the Festival was VivaCel-MTS. The Festival falls within the framework of the Gyurmi - CIS Cultural Capital project. This year’s events were dedicated to the 110th anniversary of Aram Khachaturian’s birth and the 25th Commemoration of the Spitak Earthquake. The Festival was held by the initiative of Pyunik Foundation, RA Ministry of Culture, Gyumri Branch of the Yerevan State Conservatory and Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Plant. AGBU is among the permanent sponsors of the Festival. AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian and AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian attended the opening ceremony and concert in Gyumri. During the week-long festival, 2,415 musicians, between the ages of 5-51, and representing 30 countries, performed and competed for the top honors. Prominent performers and renowned artists, including Jean TerMerguerian (France), Hmayak and Yelena Durgarian (Spain), Levon Oganezov (Russia) and others, were among the FestiArmenia’s Youth Orchestra Opened the Renaissance Festival val’s jury members. During the closing ceremony of the Festival, the jury bestowed 10 Grand Prizes to participants. The most outstanding performers received 1st, 2nd and 3rd place medals, Diplomas and titles of Laureate, and special prizes established in the names of prominent Armenian musicians. The Festival awarded gold, silver and bronze medals, as well as diplomas and laureate titles to 720 participants. In addition to the competition, Festival participants attended or performed in concerts, and had the opportunity to attend Master Classes by famous masters and artists in Gyumri and Yerevan. The Cultural Dialogue conference was held within the framework of the Festival. The guests also visited historical and cultural monuments across Armenia. Arni Guiragossian, an alumnus of AGBU Musical Armenia Program 2012, received First Prize in the Wind Instruments category, for 19-23 year-olds. She also received a diploma for the Best Performer of an Armenian Composer’s Work for her performance of Theme by Gagik Hovunts. Vartanian attended the closing performance and award ceremony held on April 18. Page 18


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013

AGBU CHAPTER AND YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN PLOVDIV RAISE OVER $5,000 FOR PROGRAMS IN ARMENIA The AGBU Plovdiv Chapter celebrated its 103rd anniversary with a charity gala, "Children and Youth - Our Future," to raise funds for the participation of Bulgarian-Armenian children and youth at AGBU and Diaspora Ministry summer programs in Armenia. The AGBU Plovdiv Young Professionals played a pivotal role in organizing the successful evening - which raised more than $5,000, including proceeds from an auction - at the city's exclusive Viennese Pavilion. The gala was attended by over 220 guests from five different cities in Bulgaria, including Armenian Ambassador to Bulgaria Arsen Shoyan, Vicar General of the Armenian Diocese in Bulgaria Archimandrite Abgar Hovakimian, Honorary Consul of Armenia in Plovdiv Ehiazar Uzunyan, former mayors Garabed Tomasyan and Spas Garnevski, AGBU Plovdiv chapter chair Roupen Chavoushian, as well as a number of prominent city council members and politicians. The gala guests enjoyed a full-on program with the participation of the AGBU Vocal and Instrumental Band Erebouni, the Dance at the AGBU Plovdiv Armenian Dance Group Nayiri and the Bulgarian Dance En- Nayiri Ensemble Performs an Armenian Chapter's 103rd Anniversary Gala semble Rachenitsa. They also watched video presentations on programs targeted by the fundraising efforts, including AGBU's Discover Armenia, Yerevan Summer Internship Program, Antranik Scout Camp, as well as the Diaspora Ministry's Ari Tun program. The highlight of the evening was the auction entitled "For the Children by the Children." All the items up for auction came from Armenia, including a duduk, a mother-of-pearl khachkar and four works of art made by the youth at AGBU's Children's Centers in Armenia, which became the object of a heated bidding war. The AGBU Plovdiv Chapter intends this step to be the first one of consistent efforts in the future to raise funds for the participation of youth from Bulgaria in summer programs in Armenia. The Chapter and its young members are convinced that the path to Armenia will inspire the next generations, instilling in them a sense of belonging like no other experience could.

“SELECTED ARTICLES FROM EREBOUNI” BY AGBU VETERAN MEMBER DR. ANDREAS ZOULIKIAN PUBLISHED “Selected Articles from Erebouni” (Yerevan, Printinfo, 2013: - 352 pages) by Dr. Andreas Zoulikian (1934-2012), AGBU Veteran Member and Editor-in-Chief of Erebouni newspaper, was published recently. The volume contains Dr. Zoulikian’s editorials, interviews and letters published in the Armenian-language Erebouni paper between 1980-1996 in London. Selected speeches delivered by Dr. Zoulikian are also included. His editorials and articles touched upon a wide range of national and international topics, and British-Armenian community issues. In 2011, just months before his death, Dr. Zoulikian presented the complete, 5-volume collection of the Erebouni bi-weekly to the Armenian National Library. An orthopedic surgeon, Andreas Zoulikian was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1934, to a family of emigrants from Kesaria. He graduated from Cairo State Medical University in 1961. After moving to London in 1967 and furthering his medical knowledge, he became a highly sought-after Consultant. In 1977, Dr. Zoulikian was certified a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In addition to his professional activities Dr. Zoulikian was deeply involved in Armenian community life, social and national activities. Devoted to the ideologies and activities of three major Armenian organizations - AGBU, the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA), and the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADLP) - Dr. Zoulikian unwaveringly served his homeland and Holy Etchmiadzin. As a sign of gratitude for his service to both AGBU and ADLP, he was given the title of Veteran Member for both organizations. In 1979, he was elected to the British-Armenian Community and Church Council, later becoming Chairman of the Council. Between 1991-98 he served as Chairman of AGBU London, and later Secretary of AGBU London Trust. He was a member of the London Tahtayan Sunday School board. Dr. Zoulikian was one of the founders of the Tekeyan Trust, and was Editor-in-Chief of the Erebouni bi-weekly published by the Tekeyan Trust. He wrote a number of articles and publications analyzing the problems of Armenians all over the world and pursued recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He was also one of the founders of the London Armenian Union of Doctors. Dr. Andreas Zoulikian passed away at St. Helier Hospital in London on January 14, 2012. Page 19


ISSUE 25, APRIL - MAY, 2013



Ages: 13-18 Dates: July - August, 2013 Price: 100 USD (air travel not included)

Ages: 15-18 Dates: August 5 - 22, 2013 Price: 1000 euro (air travel not included)

For more information, please contact: New York Kevork Santourian +(212) 319 6383 +(374 10) 51 22 51 +(961 3) 37 52 24

For more information, please contact: Hermine Duzian +(374 10) 51 22 51 +(33 6) 76 48 58 73 +(374 93) 68 31 73!/AgbuDiscoverArmeniaYouthProgram



Ages: 18 and over Dates: July 15 - August 4, 2013 Price: 1500 USD (air travel not included), scholarships available

Ages: 18-26 Dates: June 22 - August 5, 2013 Price: 1950 USD (air travel not included), scholarships available

For more information, please contact: New York Yerevan +(212) 319 6383 Inessa Margaryan + (374 10) 51 22 51

For more information, please contact: New York Yerevan +(212) 319 6383 Anna Aghajanian +(374 10) 51 22 51

EXPLORE AGBU ARMENIA Get the most up-to-date news, photos & videos about what’s happening! AGBU: and AGBU Armenia: and AGBU Yerevan Young Professionals: AGBU Yerevan Scouts: AGBU Internships: AGBU Discover Armenia: and!/AgbuDiscoverArmeniaYouthProgram Armenian Virtual College: and American University of Armenia: and YouTube: Flickr: Please be advised that in the event of any full or partial reference or citation of the texts above AGBU Armenia Newsletter must be mentioned. All rights reserved. Established in 1906, AGBU ( is the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 400,000 Armenians around the world.

ARMENIAN GENERAL BENEVOLENT UNION NEW YORK 55 East 59th St. New York, NY 10022-1112 Phone: (212) 319 6383


YEREVAN 9 Alex Manoogian St. Yerevan 0070, Armenia Phone: (374 10) 51 22 51 Page 20

Agbu armenia newsletter (april may, 2013) english