AGBU Europe’s GORIZ Program held its third annual event from December 3-6, 2011, in Brussels, Belgium. Previously held in Venice and Yerevan with the support of the European Commission, the most recent leadership program took place in the heart of the European Union, with 13 young diasporans from seven countries – Armenia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Romania, and the Ukraine. The gathering of new talent and leaders from different communities around Europe enabled the participants to network, discuss current topics and issues, and share ideas and project initiatives for Europe and the Armenian community. “I was happy to participate. The highlights of the seminar were meeting and getting to know the participants, and exchanging ideas with shared enthusiasm,” said a participant from Bulgaria.
Several individuals from the business world were invited to speak to the new generation of leaders and share their experiences. President of the Chamber of Commerce of Belgium Valéry Safarian spoke to the group. A technical meeting within the European Parliament also presented the different funding mechanisms for budgets provided by the European Union for projects aimed at cultural and political causes. The issues of human rights and the fight against corruption were extensively discussed during the seminar.
Two young leaders and former members of the AGBU seminars — Aurélie Deyirmendjian, former chairwoman of the Young Professionals (YP) of Paris, and Gor Abgaryan, founder of AGBU-ACAB (Spain) and AGBU Europe Board member — also spoke, explaining their role in the community, and provided advice to the participants on how to be effective in their actions going forward.
Along with the meetings and seminars, several tours were organized to familiarize the group with the presence of Armenian culture in Belgium. Participants visited the Villa Empain, a landmark of architectural heritage in Brussels, which has become a center of art and dialogue between East and West, as well as the seat of the Boghossian Foundation. Since 1992, this Armenian family foundation has been supporting social, educational, artistic and environmental projects in Armenia and Lebanon. The group also attended the opening exhibition of AGBU’s program ARMENIACA, a culmination of continued dedication to the preservation, digitization and development of archives concerning the Armenian architectural heritage.
As a result of the positive outcomes and partnerships generated during both the 2006 and 2007 AGBU Project Exchange and Development Seminars for Young European Armenians sponsored by the Council of Europe that took place in Brussels and Valence respectively, GORIZ was established in 2009 to cultivate future Armenian leaders in Europe. Young Armenian professionals are selected for participation according to their academic achievement and professional background, as well as their leadership qualities and involvement in their local Armenian community. Over the course of annual weekend-long gatherings, informative lectures and debates take place on subjects related to leadership on a long-term basis among young Armenians in Europe and the promotion of Armenian issues in Europe at civic and government levels, in addition to presentations on diverse topics and issues relating to Armenia and current events.
Throughout the year, GORIZ participants work on joint projects, such as the creation of a structure fostering foreign investments in Armenia, while getting advice and feedback from AGBU Europe members. This year, the teams with the most developed projects will have the opportunity to present them to AGBU Europe Board members during the AGBU Europe Board meeting scheduled for April in Milan. The next GORIZ seminar is expected to take place in October 2012 during the AGBU General Assembly in Yerevan.
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit
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