On April 4, more than 200 delegates from across the Armenian diaspora participated in the AGBU 88th General Assembly, which took place at the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts (Matenadaran) in Yerevan, Armenia. The event gave the delegates the opportunity to reassert their commitment to strengthening relations between Armenia and the diaspora as well as to rediscover Armenia’s cultural treasures and its potential for development.
In the days leading up to the assembly, delegates, members and guests participated in a full program of trips and events. The program began on March 28 with a three-day visit to Nagorno-Karabakh where they became acquainted with AGBU projects in the region and met with Nagorno-Karabakh Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulyan. The delegates explored the region’s educational potential and development prospects with a visit to the AUA-AGBU Continuing Education Program, a center that integrates the educational programs of the American University of Armenia’s Extension Program. They also visited the towns of Gandzasar and Shushi and attended a concert by the Karabakh Chamber Orchestra.
On March 31, delegates, having returned to Yerevan, toured the Ministry of Defense and were received by Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan, who presented AGBU with the Medal of the Armed Forces in appreciation of the organization’s patriotism and preservation of Armenian identity. At the event, AGBU President Berge Setrakian also awarded Ohanyan with a gold medal.
One of the aims of the General Assembly was to introduce delegates to successful individuals and companies in Armenia. To this end, visits were organized to the Ayb School, the American University of Armenia (AUA), the offices of National Instruments and Synopsys, the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies and the UWC Dilijan College.
On March 31, Aram Salatian, General Director of National Instruments in Armenia, welcomed the AGBU delegates to their offices. National Instruments has become a hub for more than 16 start-up companies where young specialists from Armenia and the diaspora work to export goods around the world. In the afternoon, a tour was organized of the IT company Synopsys, which has been operating in Armenia since 2004. Today it includes approximately 650 workers, of which 600 are young engineers. AGBU Central Board Member and Chief Architect of Synopsys Armenia Dr. Yervant Zorian presented the projects and activities of the company to the guests.
On April 1, the first of the #AGBUtalks was held on the topic of human capital in Armenia and the diaspora (see page 32). The day continued with a tour of the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies. Founded by the President of the Simonian Educational Foundation and AGBU Vice President Sam Simonian, the TUMO Center opened its doors to the young people of Armenia in 2011. Today, it offers a free afterschool education program for 12 to 18-year-olds in four different fields: animation, video game design, web development and digital video. At the TUMO Center, the AGBU delegates also learned about the Teach for Armenia (TFA) program, which aims to make high quality education available to all children in Armenia, with a presentation by TFA founder Larisa Ryan. The delegates ended the afternoon with a visit to one of the most successful companies in Armenia, PicsArt, an app that allows users to take photos using various effects, frames, masks and borders and share them through social media, text message and email. The company started operating with five people. Today, it has over 120 employees and engages 8 to 9 million users a day.
On the same day, AGBU Armenian Virtual College (AVC), in collaboration with the Municipality of Yerevan, organized a global forum to launch its latest interactive e-book Exploring Yerevan: A Look Inside the City’s Past and Present. The e-book is the newest addition to AVC’s pioneering multimedia e-book series and is designed to offer historical, social and demographic information to readers interested in visiting Yerevan or learning about the city. During the global forum, Mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan stressed the importance of the collaboration between the Municipality of Yerevan and AVC in encouraging the success of similar initiatives: “Thanks to the incorporation of modern technologies, our 2796-year-old capital can now be presented to the world as an attractive touristic destination.” Margaryan was awarded an AGBU Gold Medal for playing an important role in establishing and preserving close ties with international organizations as well as for his vast contribution in the area of urban development. In return, Margaryan presented President Setrakian with a souvenir bearing the coat of arms of Yerevan.
On April 2, delegates toured the American University of Armenia and attended the second #AGBUtalks panel on the challenges of building the Armenian state (see page 32). The following day, the group traveled to Dilijan for a tour of the UWC Dilijan College, where the final #AGBUtalks panel was held on improving Armenians’ international standing (see page 32).
On April 4, the 88th General Assembly took place during which five new members were elected to the AGBU Central Board of Directors and outstanding members of the AGBU community were recognized for their service (see page 30). In the afternoon, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the new AGBU building in Yerevan (see page 34). The assembly concluded with a Gala Concert at the National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet after A. Spendiarian, which was attended by President Serzh Sargsyan, Minister of Diaspora Hranoush Hakobyan and Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghoyan, among hundreds of guests.
On April 5, Henri Verneuil Street was unveiled in Yerevan. Children of the renowned cinematographer—Patrick, chairman of AGBU Marseille, and Sophie—as well as other family members arrived in Yerevan to take part in the event.