Nathalie Piranian, the current chair of AGBU London Young Professionals (YPs), cannot remember a time when she wasn’t involved with AGBU. Growing up in Lebanon, she was an AGBU summer camper for 10 years, and a camp instructor after that. She spent a summer overseas in the AGBU New York Summer Internship Program (NYSIP) and later became a YP committee member. Her international experience enables her to successfully organize global fundraising events such as AGBU FOCUS 2017 in Beirut. She is now on the next leg of her journey, living in London and heading up one of the most active YP groups globally.
I strongly believe AGBU enables the Armenian diaspora to experience being Armenian—the language, the history, the heritage, and the identity. You don’t necessarily have to live in or visit Armenia to feel Armenian.
Q Where did your journey with AGBU begin and how has it impacted your current role? My association with AGBU is in my genealogical tree. My great-grandfather from my mother’s side Zarmair Keshishian was the president of AGBU in Egypt, and later served simultaneously as AGBU’s vice president in the Middle East. It continued with my father, an AGBU board member in Lebanon since 2009, then with myself. AGBU is ingrained in my identity. I can’t separate AGBU from being Armenian; for me, they are synonymous.
Q How would you describe AGBU’s culture and values? I strongly believe AGBU enables the Armenian diaspora to experience being Armenian—the language, the history, the heritage, and the identity. You don’t necessarily have to live in or visit Armenia to feel Armenian. I’ve only been to Armenia once but I feel very Armenian. This being said, going to Armenia reinforces one’s identity and I look forward to visiting again this summer.
Q As a leader in the organization, what accomplishments are you most proud of? FOCUS 2017 was a huge accomplishment. We invested so much time and energy and were incredibly grateful to witness the satisfaction of all the attendees. We felt really proud of everything we accomplished, whether it was the feedback we received or the $100,000 we raised for AGBU. We are hoping that every FOCUS raises the bar higher, and motivates us to compete so we perform even better.
Q What are your goals since you’ve moved to London and now as the London YP Chair? The committee is very strong, passionate, and engaged. We want to energize the community, which is why we organize 12 events per year—ranging from one big event every quarter to more casual after-work meet ups. I’m really happy working in a new Armenian community that is vastly different than the one I grew up in. It truly is an enriching experience.
Q Has moving to London changed your definition of being Armenian at all? On the contrary. Because AGBU is worldwide, it’s like a home away from home. Whether I move to a new city or I am just visiting, I know there will always be an AGBU community to welcome me. It’s great to feel a part of something that is incredibly diverse and yet so familiar. It’s actually quite astounding how different but similar we are. Even at global events, it’s so inspiring to see so many people from all over the world working together toward one goal, and sharing the same drive and engagement.
Q Talk about your fundraising effort for FOCUS 2019 through the London YPs. We are excited to have participated in a global YP fundraising campaign in support of the FOCUS 2019 cause. YP leadership brainstormed ways to join forces and came up with the #Cycle4Women project. This allowed us to coordinate fundraising efforts globally while having fun. By making it one fundraising activity under one umbrella campaign, everyone was able to connect with just the click of a button. This year, we raised funds for the AGBU Women Entrepreneurs program in Armenia which is such a relevant topic for YPs and the world. Empowered women are role models with tremendous influence on Armenia’s youth.
Banner Illustration by Luis Tinoco