kherdianreadingsm.jpgOn Tuesday, September 24, AGBU Ararat Quarterly & The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) co-sponsored a book reading event for the release of Forgotten Bread: First Generation Armenian American Writers edited by David Kherdian.

The book launch took place at the G Hall of the St. Vartan Cathedral complex and was open to the public.

Close to 50 people attended the event which was one of the first attempts to anthologize a body of literature that spans almost a century and includes many notable names, including A. I. Bezzerides, Diana Der Hovanessian, Marjorie Housepian Dobkin, David Kherdian, William Saroyan, Peter Sourian and Leon Surmelian.

Forgotten Bread was supported by a grant from AGBU.

Copies of the book are currently available for purchase on Amazon.com, and will soon be available on AGBU’s online bookstore and St. Vartan’s online bookstore.

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Over August 31, 2007 weekend, AGBU’s University Committee from Beirut, Lebanon traveled to Aleppo, Syria for the first time ever to meet with their peers in the Aleppo University Committee.

In a short two days, the two Committees covered significant ground discussing and brainstorming solutions to the many common challenges they each face mobilizing youth in their respective communities. The Beirut University Committee is chaired by Guy Markarian and the Aleppo University Committee by Serge Aprahamian.

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For the second year, the Board of Directors of AGBU Toronto hosted a Canadian citizenship ceremony at its Manoogian Cultural Center in Scarborough. The event was in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Canadian citizenship, which official began in 1947.

The special ceremony was held on Tuesday, September18, 2007, at 10:30 am at the Manoogian Center in the Scarborough area of Toronto, Canada.

Citizenship Judge Sarkis Assadourian, an esteemed member of the community and former Member of Parliament, was the presiding judge for the event. The public and the media were all invited to witness the event.

agbuarmeniayouth.jpgAn Armenian newspaper, Azg, reported in their September 8, 2007 edition about AGBU’s continuing success at helping Armenian youth make a connection with their ancestral homeland of Armenia. The following is an edited English-language translation of an article, entitled “SO THAT THE SWALLOWS ALWAYS RETURN…” written by Susanna Markarian (original article in Armenian):

For many years now thanks to the efforts of AGBU, three groups of Diaspora children and youngsters of different ages have the opportunity of seeing their homeland with their own eyes and feeling the warmth of their mother land and relatives.

…This article deals with the details of the visit of 17 youngsters from Armenian communities of Europe.

But before that let’s sum up the results of these important programs with AGBU Armenian Representation Director Ashot Ghazarian: “Children of school age often have an issue of finding their personal identity. By bringing them to Armenia we help them connect with their heritage and national identity. This is important especially considering the fact that the number of Armenian-speaking diaspora Armenians decreases every year. The long range mission of these programs is to help these children feel pride for their homeland and national identity.”

Felix Akinian from France is 16 years old. This reserved young boy politely answers our questions. This is his second visit to Armenia. He feels like he’s coming home each time he comes to Armenia. He notices all the good and bad changes. “Yerevan has changed a lot in three years. The city is dirty, maybe it’s because of the construction volume or the movement,” said Felix.

Blanjian Martin had not been in Armenia since leaving it 8 years ago. He speaks broken eastern-Armenian mixed with English but his eyes are filled with enthusiasm and joy. “I arrived earlier than the others. Everything is fantastic in Armenia.” Martin speaks about their travel schedule. “We traveled all around Armenia. We went to Karabakh. We participated in an ecological project near the Devil’s Bridge together with WWF. We cleaned the territory.”

Julie Marty is the only French person with no Armenian heritage in the group. Armenia can be considered a spiritual homeland for her, because, “My godfather is Armenian, and I was baptized in an Armenian Apostolic Church called Holy Translators’ [Srbots Targmanchats]. If I were to choose my religion now, I would be Armenian Apostolic,” she said.

Julie is from Marseilles. She will return to Armenia definitely, as she said…

[Hermine Duzian] is the Director of AGBU Europe camps and it is the fourth year she is bringing the Diasporan Armenians to their homeland. Forty-eight youngsters have already traveled to Armenia and collected unforgettable memories under her supervision of Duzian.

“Today, we went to Tsitsernakabert. Not everybody felt the impression of the museum and the monument, but some of them bowed their heads, secluded themselves from the group. The scheduled time is not enough for them to get acquainted with all the materials in the museum. For those children we will once again return to Tsitsernakabert for a whole day. I know most of these youngsters from European camps”, said Duzian and told us about the three-week camp in France where 125-130 youngsters spend their holidays in the French mountains. The next step is to bring the children from these camps to Armenia.

During our conversation in a Yerevan café, many youngsters approach, greet and hug Duzian. These are youngsters who came to Armenia through the AGBU summer programs years ago and then kept returning to Armenia on their own initiative or with their families.

Meline O’DeVanyan is one of such youngsters, who is already married. She is in Armenia with her Spanish boyfriend and his relatives. She said she met many of her group members in Armenia and now she was happy to see their dear supervisor. Hot weather in Yerevan seems to be cooling off but the people warmly talking around the table do not even notice that. They think about making the visit of the next group of youngsters more interesting and productive. [Translation courtesy Vartan T., AGBU Yerevan Office]

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With 2000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representatives in attendance from over 90 countries, the 60th Annual United Nations Department of Public Information/Non Governmental Organanization (UN DPI NGO) Conference entitled “Climate Change: How It Impacts Us All” took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from September 5-7, 2007.

Partaking in a three-day agenda of roundtables, panels, and workshops, several representatives from AGBU were present, including Main Representative Kim Yacoubian (NY, NY); Peter Darakjian and Anahid KaraHagopian with AGBU HyeGeen (Pasadena, California); and community members from the greater New York area Yelena Ambartsumian, Astrid Avedissian, and Paul Kayaian.

One of the special events at the conference was a screening of a documentary film called “United Differences: Family Impacts on Climate Change” (watch it below), which explored the roles of both families and individuals in preventing climate change. One of the families which appeared in the documentary was our own AGBU Central Board member Arda Nazerian Haratunian, along with her mother and daughter.

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The conference reviewed the scientific evidence on climate change, including its consequences on indigenous peoples, water security, land use, and the politics of energy. For the first time in 60 years, the conference participants produced a final declaration document that makes recommendations for individual action, as well as a collaborative work to combat climate change.

AGBU has been accredited as an NGO at the UN since 1989.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTO1eCvlXOI]

“United Differences: Family Impacts on Climate Change” documentary film, visit the page on YouTube by clicking here.