AGBU Generation Next Mentorship Program in Los Angeles Wins Award

mail46546.jpg

On November 15, 2007, USC Armenian Graduate Student Association (AGSA)
held its First Annual Assembly of Armenian Professionals and paid
tribute to the AGBU Generation Next Mentorship Program (GenNext). The
event, attended by over 130 guests from various Armenian organizations
in the Los Angeles area, was held at the upscale Spazio restaurant in
Sherman Oaks, California.

Armen Donigian, USC AGSA chair of Professional Development, presented
Ara Arzumanian, director of the mentorship program, with AGSA’s first
annual “Award for Excellence in Community Leadership.” Arzumanian
gratefully accepted the award and invited his group of mentors to join
him on stage to share the honor. “AGBU Generation Next is receiving this
award because of the dedicated mentors who have made our program
successful. This award belongs to them,” said Arzumanian.

Arzumanian stressed the historical importance of mentorship, beginning
with Greek mythology. During his impassioned speech, Arzumanian
encouraged the audience of young professionals to be active in their
community. “Before you know yourself, you must know your community. You
must know where you belong in your community. Mentoring will help you,
as well as a young boy or girl, understand where each of you fits in
this world.”

He concluded with an appeal to guests to take up the challenge and
become mentors to Armenian youth in the Los Angeles area. As a result,
20 new applicants–a record number–signed up that evening. According to
Arzumanian, “This was a landmark event.” The follow-up recruitment
session, which took place on November 20, “clinched the deal for us,”
said Arzumanian. “We are now in the midst of interviewing all applicants
and expect to accept about 18 new applicants and bring our total numbers
to about 70 [mentorship] matches.”

GenNext was created in 1997 by a handful of volunteers under the
auspices of AGBU and the administrative assistance of the Glendale
Unified School District (GUSD) in response to the many pressures of
gangs, crime, drugs, and family dysfunction faced by Armenian youth in
the Los Angeles area.

The focus of Generation Next Mentorship Program is prevention. The
group’s mission is to identify, with the cooperation of school
counselors and parents, potentially troubled teens and help them find a
meaningful role in the community. By pairing youth with mentor
volunteers, 19 years and over, teens identify with positive role models
and receive guidance and necessary support from them. They meet with
their mentors at least twice a month for one-on-one sessions and
communicate often by phone.

An important part of the program is high-quality, highly interactive,
innovative group activities that focus on building self-confidence,
orienting kids toward future careers and helping them live the Armenian
culture. Other activities, such as museum trips, theater and dance
performances, help young Armenians discover new interests and learn to
become more self-sufficient.

The 10-year-old mentorship program has grown into a professionally
managed and highly recognized community service. On August 27, 2007, the
group earned distinction from the Glendale Unified School District
(GUSD) at their “Making a Difference Management Retreat.” Before an
audience of 150 district administrators, school administrators,
counselors, and other classified managers, GenNext received an award for
their efforts toward “Making a Difference in the lives of the children
of the Glendale Unified School District.”

AGBU Sydney Showcases the Art & Design of Kevork Shadoyan

ffff.jpg

During November and December 2007, AGBU Sydney hosted Kevork Shadoyan
for a series of seven events entitled “The Armenian Silk Road,” which
attracted over 1,200 attendees and showcased the fashion, art and ideas
of an artist who predominantly uses silk as his medium of expression.

On November 3, local Armenians gathered for a fashion show at the AGBU
Center by the Syrian-born designer who has received training at
institutes in Beirut and Yerevan. No stranger to integrating traditional
Armenian styles with a modern sensibility, Shadoyan regularly shows his
creations in Armenia and his clothes are featured in various Yerevan
boutiques. The audience was impressed with his contemporary creations
that made them aware of a new breed of Armenian fashion.

Almost two weeks later, on November 16, the city’s Armenian community
gathered for another display of talent from the 33-year-old artist.
Shadoyan’s unique artwork, which colors, paints and collages silk, was
inspiring to those who attended.

Beginning with a cocktail reception, the exhibition was inaugurated with
short speeches by a number of community leaders, including Mistress of
Ceremonies Nora Bastajian; Most Reverend Krikor Youmoushakian, Pastor of
the Armenian Evangelical Church in Sydney; Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, NSW
Parliamentarian; and Aram Hagopian, Sydney Chapter vice-chair. The
three-day exhibition attracted over 300 guests to the AGBU Center.

On November 23, 24 and 28, Shadoyan visited the city’s AGBU Alexander
Day School, AGBU Alex Manoogian Saturday School, and St. Gregory
Armenian Catholic School to lead workshops with the students and educate
them about the beauty of silk.

In December, the “Armenian Silk Road” series continued with a lecture on
Wednesday, December 12, to over a hundred guests, and a second fashion
show on December 15 that attracted over 250 local Australian Armenians.

Children Give Magical Christmas Concert in Yerevan

hhgg.jpg
  
On January 13, 2007, the children of the AGBU Children’s Centers and
other youth centers administered by the Holy See of Etchmiadzin
performed a two-hour concert entitled “The Secret of Light” at the Aram
Khachaturian Concert Hall in Yerevan, Armenia. The event was sponsored
by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and AGBU.

Telling the fantastical and magical story of Santa Claus and Snow White
traveling the whole world, the performance followed the journey in
search of the secret of light but could not find it. The children
traveled through a fantasy world, which included a stop on the famed
magical planet of the renowned French children’s story, “The Little

kkjj.jpg

Prince.” Finally, after many stops and diversions, some kind and wise
people helped them to uncover the secret. Together they lit candles and
Christmas tree lights with that secret, bringing love and warmth, faith
and devotion to the children.

Father Grikor Khachatrian, spiritual head of the AGBU Children’s Centers
and Youth Centers, conveyed the message of His Holiness Karekin II,
Catholicos of All Armenians, and brought sacks full of toys and sweets
for all the participants of the evening’s program.

There are seven youth centers administered by the Mother See of Holy
Etchmiadzin, including the three AGBU Children’s Centers in Yerevan, and
four other centers in Vanadzor, Ashtarak, Etchmiadzin, and Kanaker. Over
4,000 children attend the seven youth centers, where they gain artistic,
spiritual and cultural education. During the January 13 concert, Father
Grikor spoke about his hope that the number of Youth Centers will
increase in the future, especially in the rural areas, so that the
children living there will also have an opportunity to get acquainted
with the rich Armenian heritage.

Hrant Dink Remembered by New York-Area Armenian Americans

516165566.jpg

On Sunday, January, 20, 2008, more than 400 people attended a full day
of events commemorating the one-year anniversary of slain
Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink. Taking place at the Diocesan Center
in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood, the day’s events began with the
Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian, a service
for the Repose of the Souls and a blessing of madagh (memorial meal) at
St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral.

Following services, the program, sponsored by a coalition of
Armenian-American organizations at the Kavookjian Auditorium, continued
with speakers, which included such luminaries as writer and activist
Herand Markarian and filmmaker Carla Garapedian, whose critically
acclaimed documentary film “Screamers” featured extensive footage of
Hrant Dink before his death.

Dink, 52, was gunned down on January 19, 2007, on a sidewalk in
Istanbul, outside the offices of Agos, the newspaper he founded in 1996.
A total of 19 people, including one teenager who allegedly shot Dink,
have been charged in connection with the murder and are now on trial.

The murder sparked an international outcry, galvanized Diasporan
Armenian calls for Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and
shined a spotlight on Turkey’s continuing violation of freedom of speech
and human rights laws. During his life, Dink encouraged Turks to learn
the truth about their past and who they really are, pointed out the
inequalities minorities in Turkey faced and hoped that the new
generation would embrace their Armenian linguistic heritage.

Dink knew that raising questions about the Armenian Genocide would bring
him trouble, Garapedian said, but “he calculated the odds and decided he
could survive.”

“The fact is Hrant could have backed off. He chose not to,” Garapedian
said. “He was constantly testing the boundaries of this repressive
culture.”

Most recently, Dink was best known as the editor-in-chief of Agos, a
weekly newspaper published in Turkish and Armenian. “Agos” means
“furrow,” Markarian said, stressing that Dink’s goal was not only to
revisit history, but also to plant a seed for the future.

In never-before-seen footage of Garapedian’s interview with Dink in his
Agos offices, the editor talked about Turks as a people who have yet to
come to terms with their terrible past.

“There are Turks who don’t admit their ancestors committed genocide.
They seem like nice people. So why don’t they admit it?” Dink said in
the video that was screened during the Commemoration event. “Because
they’re against genocide and wouldn’t commit it themselves, they can’t
believe their ancestors would have done such things either.”

Dink’s struggle to improve Turkish-Armenians relations, even as he was
accused of insulting Turkishness under the internationally condemned
Article 301 of Turkey’s Penal Code, and his tragic death, speak to
Armenians everywhere, Markarian said.

Markarian also spoke about Dink’s early life, his management of the
Tuzla Armenian Children’s Camp, which the Turkish government shut down
in the 1980s, and his work as a journalist.

“Oftentimes, Hrant Dink acted as a translator,” said Rachel Goshgarian,
director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center. “He was a
translator between Turks and Armenians in Turkey, he was a translator
between Turks and Armenians in Armenia, he was a translator between
Armenians in the Diaspora and Turks.”

“It is perhaps only in the past year that we have realized the important
work of a translator, of our translator, of Hrant,” Goshgarian added.
“If we truly believe in Hrant’s dream, then we have no choice other than
to try and become more like Hrant.”

Dink’s death, Garapedian said, prompts Armenians to seek the “truth of
denial” by continuing his fight for Armenian Genocide recognition and
expanded freedoms for Armenians and other minorities in Turkey.

“We want to recognize history, not rewrite it,” Garapedian said. “We
have power. And we have the right to exercise it.”

Closing remarks and a prayer were offered by Archbishop Gizirian.

Sunday’s event was organized by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of
America (Eastern), with the participation of AGBU, the Armenian American
Support Educational Center – Hye Doon, the Constantinople Armenian
Relief Society, the Diocesan Gomidas Choir, the Esayan-Getronagan
Alumni, Inc., the Forest Hills Armenian Cultural Center, the New York
Chapter of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, the
Knights of Vartan, the Tekeyan Cultural Association, and Tibrevank
Alumni, Inc.

New York Program Receives Record Number of Applications

February 18 Deadline for 2008 AGBU Paris and Yerevan Summer Internships
New York Program Receives Record Number of Applications

64565513.jpg

AGBU is currently accepting applications for its 2008 summer internship
programs in Paris and Yerevan (PSIP and YSIP). Deadline for applications
for both programs is February 18, 2008. College-age students interested
in gaining professional work experience and cultural exploration in an
exciting metropolis with other Armenian peers are highly encouraged to
apply now.

The response to AGBU’s New York Summer Intern Program (NYSIP), which
concluded its application process on December 15, 2007, was
overwhelming, and the program received the highest number of
applications in its 20-year history. The AGBU internship programs are
well known in the community for placing interns in highly competitive
and valuable professional work environments. Students have been placed
in some of the most prestigious institutions in New York, Paris and
Yerevan. Past NYSIP participants have worked at the United Nations,
Sports Illustrated, New York 1 News, UBS Bank, Channel Thirteen, Merrill
Lynch and several prestigious law firms. Interns in Paris have held
positions at the Louvre Museum, Saint Anne Hospital, the Paris
Observatory and the Pierre and Marie Curie University. In only the
initial year of YSIP, AGBU interns in Yerevan have worked at the World
Health Organization, Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Armenia,
National Assembly, Central Bank, Cafesjian Museum Foundation and several
leading medical institutions.

In addition to gaining professional experience and making network
connections in their fields of interest, interns also have the chance to
explore the unique cultures of their host city. The AGBU plans several
outings to the cities’ museums, restaurants, performing arts centers,
parks and major monuments.

When students are not caught up in the hustle and bustle of such
fascinating cities, they will also be given informational lectures on a
variety of worthwhile topics, like resume writing, interviewing, job
networking and Armenian culture and heritage from several prestigious
speakers. Interns also have the opportunity to give back to the
community through planned service opportunities.

The internship programs strive to give participants not only a solid
professional foundation and sense of city life, but also a sense of
personal growth. Many internship alumni continue to give back to the
programs through mentorship events and are now leaders in their fields
in various international cities.

Apply today as the deadline for PSIP and YSIP is fast approaching on
February 18, 2008. Students interested in receiving more information on
the AGBU programs can contact PSIP directly by emailing
stages@ugabfrance.org and YSIP by emailing ysip@agbu.org. All forms are
now available online at the AGBU website, agbu.org under the
“Downloadable Forms” pull-down menu.

Sponsored by the AGBU President’s Club, the AGBU New York Summer Intern
Program (NYSIP) (agbu.org/nysip) was established in 1987 by Vartkess and
Rita Balian, and continues to be under their supervision during this,
its 21st year. AGBU NYSIP places young, aspiring Armenians in eight-week
internships in the corporate, international, art and medical worlds of
New York, while providing a well-rounded program of Armenian cultural,
educational and community-service activities.

Sponsored by AGBU France District, the AGBU Paris Summer Intern Program
(PSIP) (etudiants.ugab.fr) was established in 2003, placing young
aspiring Armenians in seven-week internships working for leading
organizations in Paris. Integral to the summer intern program is a
dynamic series of cultural, educational, and social activities.

Sponsored by the AGBU Central Board of Directors, the AGBU Yerevan
Summer Intern Program (YSIP) (agbu.org/ysip) was established in 2007,
placing young aspiring Armenians in five-week internships in the
corporate, political, communications, and medical fields of Armenia. In
addition, there is an all-inclusive agenda of Armenian dance, language,
culture and history, plus weekend trips to various regions around the
country.

AGBU Applauds 10th Anniversary of Gyumri Branch of Yerevan Fine Arts

mail1.jpg

The Gyumri branch of Yerevan Fine Arts Academy celebrated its 10th
anniversary on December 21, 2007 at the Hoktember movie theater in
Gyumri, Armenia. Republic of Armenia Education and Science Minister
Levon Mkrtchian, Rector of Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts Aram
Isabekian, AGBU Armenian Representation Director Ashot Ghazarian, other
officials, local authorities, and representatives of higher educational
institutions were present at the festive celebration.

Coinciding with the celebration was the opening of an exhibition of
various works, including fine arts, graphics, sculptures, ornaments, and
textile designs, by academy students in the halls of the institute. Also
on exhibit in the nearby Aslamazian Sisters Hall were art works by
academy professors.

“This building was renovated by the funds provided by ‘Hayastan’
All-Armenian Fund, AGBU and the money raised by the people during the
pilgrimage of composer Loris Tjeknavorian to Gyumri in 1991.” This
sentence is inscribed on the plaque at the entrance of the building
unofficially called the Academy of Fine Arts, which houses the Gyumri
branches of three state art institutions of Yerevan: the Yerevan Fine
Arts Academy, the Yerevan Conservatory and the Yerevan Institute of
Movie and Theater. This educational center, which started with less than
10 students a decade ago, today has 192 specialists in six departments.

“I’m very glad that the building, which resembled a pile of stones back
in 1994, breathes today and creates art. It reflects the soul of the
people of Gyumri – fine arts, music and theater. These are things that
have always been strongly characteristic of the people of Gyumri and
have fed our culture. I remember the days when this building was
half-ruined and a sign on it said, ‘An arts academy will be built here.’
People used to bring their children here even before it was fully built.
And I remember once I heard a woman saying, ‘My child will study here.’
Thank God, AGBU had the opportunity of investing here and establishing
this cultural center,” said Ghazarian.

“We are so happy,” said Isabekian. “The establishment of this
department, as well as the other two, was of vital importance back in
the 1990’s. The atmosphere in Gyumri after the disastrous earthquake was
very depressing, people felt abandoned. And even though there were a lot
of other unsolved issues then, time proved that the establishment of
such a cultural center was a very right decision. It brought enthusiasm
to the city, to the youth. And today we have a beautiful 10-year-old
cultural center. I want to mention with admiration about our lecturers
working in Gyumri, amazing painters, wonderful people, who organized all
this work, who overcame all the difficulties. And certainly, I would
like to underscore the great contribution of the Armenian General
Benevolent Union in all this.”