January 02, 2018

AGBU President Berge Setrakian's New Year's Message

Here we are once again at the beginning of a new year, motivated to continue on the positive path established over the last twelve months and inspired to open new doors for Armenians across the globe.

For AGBU, 2017 was a year of promise­­, both literally and figuratively, as we saw our organization address the needs of our diverse communities and at the same time, expand through new initiatives, dynamic partnerships and key collaborations. These efforts reflected our clear strategic focus on cultural, educational, humanitarian and socio-economic development programs, while staying true to AGBU’s core values and the spirit of our founding fathers.

One of our key outreach efforts has been and shall continue to be aiding our fellow Armenians who have been forced to start new lives as a result of the civil unrest in Syria. Our humanitarian work has provided countless families with education, healthcare, grants for businesses and most of all, critical moral support. As we opened our hearts, our dedicated constituents across the globe also found ways to continue enhancing and expanding our long-standing programs by supporting our flourishing performing arts department, enriching our schools and implementing our numerous youth initiatives.

Without a doubt, one of last year’s highlights was the active role AGBU played in all our communities in helping promote The Promise, the first full-length, major Hollywood production featuring the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide. With its all-star cast and an Academy Award-winning director, The Promise also highlighted the resilience of the Armenian people and gave non-Armenians a unique opportunity to learn about our history through both the movie and a comprehensive campaign coordinated by AGBU to introduce genocide education into schools and libraries across the United States placing our history into classrooms.

Being conscious of the importance of social media and technology to reach out to the largest possible audiences, AGBU has been creating and promoting the necessary tools to keep up with the ongoing trends in the world.  Hybrid classrooms through the Armenian Virtual Classrooms (AVC) have now connected students from as far as New Zealand with Armenian lessons, our support for the ANI program linked English speaking coaches from the diaspora to eager learners throughout Armenia, and our WebTalks series introduced topics ranging from illuminated manuscripts to the role of Armenian women at the turn of the century.

Perhaps one of the best indications of how far-reaching AGBU as an organization has become are the new partnerships and collaborations that have elevated the scope of our operations and the impact within the Armenian world and beyond. In Armenia, we have worked on a regular basis with the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, the European Union Delegation, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Defense and many aligned NGOs. Our districts, chapters and offices collaborated on projects and events with the Smithsonian Institute, the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and AUB’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, to name a few. We have much to look forward to in 2018 including collaborations with The Metropolitan Museum for their impressive exhibition in the fall of 2018 entitled Armenia. These relationships are vital in ensuring our nation’s history is known and future is secure.

AGBU was also proud to stand with the United Nations in marking the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime on December 9, which highlights the issues of genocide awareness, human rights and refugee assistance. With organized symposiums on three continents, AGBU brought the Armenian Genocide further into public awareness by focusing on developing preventive solutions for communities beyond our own. It is critical for all our communities to present forums like these to honor our ancestors by actively engaging in prevention and education efforts.

AGBU is grateful for the hard work of our dedicated staff, the tireless efforts of our districts, chapters and thousands of volunteers, and the extraordinary generosity of our benefactors and supporters. I am humbled by your passion and commitment to helping fulfill the promise of our incredible organization.

Several years ago, I asked our AGBU family across the globe to expand their outlook beyond their local community; to engage in programs and projects that benefit the global Armenian nation; to think and act like the global Armenians we need to be to ensure a prosperous future for our people. I am grateful to so many of you for doing just that and believe that if we continue on this path, we will only strengthen the unity of our global nation. I wish you all a peaceful, healthy and prosperous new year.

To view the press release in Armenian, click here. 

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