"Being involved with AGBU has given me the opportunity to go deeper in certain aspects of my Armenian origin. Being part of such a structured organization makes it also easier to “explain” your roots to people that know nothing or little about Armenia. Additionally AGBU’s modern communication is key to reaching different kind of people."
Gayané Khodaveerdi a Commercial Manager and the chair of AGBU Milan since September 2020. Since its foundation in 1912, AGBU Milan has been an important player in promoting the Armenian culture and heritage in Italy. We sat down with Gayané to learn about what motivates her and the work of AGBU Milan.
How did you get involved with AGBU and why were you drawn to the organization?
I started getting involved with AGBU during FOCUS in Miami in the summer 2005. It was inspiring to meet Armenians from all around the world, to participate in events where each person could bring her/his multifaceted background in each discussion and project.
Can you please describe the activities of AGBU Milan and how it serves the local community?
The Armenian presence in Italy dates back to a long time ago and AGBU Milan exists since 1912. Our chapter has always been very active culturally, by organizing high quality cultural events. We are currently focused on sharing our precious cultural heritage with the local community, involving young people and also the Italian entities, through events, fundraisers and communications to the media. Throughout the years, AGBU Milan has organized, in the Armenian cultural center of Milan, called Hay Dun, several concerts, conferences and book presentations attended by both Armenians and Italians together.
If you could describe your programme in only 3 words, what would they be?
Network, culture and youth.
Can you share with us some of AGBU Milan’s recent achievements and current initiatives?
During and after the war we organized a few fundraisers in different contexts, all aimed both at raising money for Artsakh and raising awareness among the Italian community about what was actually going on: fundraiser class with the world kickboxing champion Giorgio Petrosyan; online Christmas concert with Italian and Italian-Armenian musicians with the special participation of Serj Tankian; Easter fundraiser in collaboration with a renowned Italian bakery in Milan. We are currently working on a very interesting project with an Italian Readers’ Club who is interested in creating a library in a school in Artsakh. Raising awareness in the Italian local communities is very important to us. We are also contributing to AGBU Europe’s Remembrance project on the heritage of WW1: next September there will be a conference in Milan in a renowned cultural venue, it will be on the activities of the German writer Armin T. Wegner in Rome after the Armenian genocide.
What is one thing about AGBU that you wish people knew?
AGBU’s biggest strength is that people (both volunteers and employed) really work hard and always accomplish their goals. I would say that AGBU has such a big variety of projects that every person can find a sphere of interest and help in the preferred direction. I am a big fan of the WE (Women Entrepreneurs) Program with which I am currently collaborating : sharing the diaspora’s expertise is the biggest resource for our motherland. Another gem created by AGBU is the Armenian Virtual College (AVC) : I am convinced that more people should know about this priceless learning opportunity.
How has your involvement with the AGBU shaped who you are with your family, your friends and in your career?
Being involved with AGBU has given me the opportunity to go deeper in certain aspects of my Armenian origin. Being part of such a structured organization makes it also easier to “explain” your roots to people that know nothing or little about Armenia. Additionally AGBU’s modern communication is key to reaching different kind of people.