An alumnus of multiple AGBU programs during his formative years in Aleppo, Syria, Hratch Borghosizian sees his current leadership role in the Armenian community of UAE as a continuation of the AGBU values instilled in him since birth. He was enrolled at Lazar Najarian-Calouste Gulbenkian School when just a toddler and progressed through AGBU Scouts, the basketball team of the Armenian Youth Association (AYA), and later served on the school association and students’ association committees. A resident of Dubai since his 20s, Hratch runs a printing industry supplies business. Yet he still finds the time to volunteer for numerous AGBU programs and activities, many of which shaped his own strong identity.
All members of AGBU are taught to work toward the benefit of all Armenians globally, above and beyond ourselves.
What are some of the AGBU values that have guided your life? No other Armenian organization in the world has made such an impact on youth as AGBU. Not only were we immersed in our education, but also we had a vibrant community and cultural life. At the same time, we shared a global and inclusive perspective, recognizing that Armenians everywhere are part of the AGBU family.
All members of AGBU are taught to work toward the benefit of all Armenians globally, above and beyond ourselves. Everything AGBU did since 1906 was pro-Armenians and pro-Armenia. Had we been asked to work only for AGBU, we would not have become a leading organization. And this spirit of inclusivity has been passed down to our children. That’s why I see such strong motivation in my two daughters who are even more creative than in my day, thanks to technology.
What opportunities do you see for today’s Armenian youth? In addition to refining and updating our core youth programs, we should enhance opportunities with global reach, like the Armenian Virtual College (AVC). As the times change, we should take advantage of new technologies that
help connect all Armenians even closer. I appreciate the AGBU Discover Armenia program, which should be encouraged throughout our student and youth communities. In the diaspora, we encourage the Armenian youth to visit Yerevan either in AGBU Scouts camping trips or through Discover Armenia. I sent my daughter as soon as she turned 16.
Moreover, we don’t know where the world will be in 30-40 years from now; robots could be running the world by then. So let’s have our own robot that speaks Armenian and has an Armenian name. We should leverage technology in favor of AGBU programs to strengthen and support Armenians and Armenia.
What do you see as your role as a leader in the Armenian community in the diaspora? It could be difficult outside Armenia for the youth to maintain an Armenian identity. My children learned to speak because my wife and I speak only Armenian to them. Yet it was a challenge teaching them to read and learn the history and culture. So we have a Sunday school in which Armenian language is taught to youth. But we are thankful that we have not one, but two Armenian churches here (Sharjah and Abu Dhabi) and our two Armenian one-day schools on Fridays.
How would you sum up your vision for Armenians in one word? Prosperity! Not only for Armenians outside the homeland, but equally for those living there. Without Armenia, the diaspora would continue to assimilate, and without the diaspora, Armenia would not advance to the extent that it must to stay competitive economically and flourish in all spheres of society. AGBU has an important role to play in building a strong Armenian nation and with every program launched, meeting arranged, and gathering hosted by AGBU, we are proving our steadfast commitment to seeing the Armenian nation prosper.
Some ask if one needs a connection to a country to feel Armenian. Yes! What our grandparents, parents, and children must transmit to new generations is a love of homeland. Though my own grandparents never visited Armenia, they put the love of the country into our hearts. Having a homeland is key to our identity. The connection has only strengthened since the independence of Armenia, when AGBU established a strong presence there. Today, we engage on many fronts and have increased our footprint in the world through AGBU-Armenia.
Banner Illustration by Luis Tinoco