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    Alina Spotlight

A breath of fresh air

Alina Alman

The creation of this committee was necessary in Nice, as it enables young Armenians on the Côte d'Azur to get together and meet each other. As Nice is an attractive city for many young working people, we noticed that our network of young professionals included not only people from Nice, but also Armenians from other French cities and even other countries.

Since 2021, Alina Alman has been Chair of both UGAB Nice and the Young Professionals (YP) committee in Nice. This "AGBU child" has always been committed to the organization through her participation in various programs, and has succeeded in breathing new life into Nice's Armenian community. More than ever, Alina and her team want to unite young people around networking events, but also through the programs AGBU offers worldwide.

How did you get involved with AGBU and why were you drawn to the organization? 

As a child, from 7 to 13, I took part in various UGAB France camps. I have wonderful memories of them, and thanks to these experiences, I created strong friendships with the other participants. Then, in 2013, I became a councelor at UGAB France Colonie de Vacances (Summer Camp). I also took part in the Discover Armenia program in 2011. This program left a deep impression on me, as it was my first trip to Armenia. I'd like to thank my parents, who made it possible for me to take part in these different programs from an early age.

In 2021, the chair of AGBU Nice, Mrs. Shaké Hagopian Clausen, submitted my application for the position of chapter’s chair to UGAB France. I wanted to get more involved with AGBU because it's an organization I'm familiar with, and this was a great opportunity for me to give back to it for all it had done for me. Of course, I saw this new responsibility as an opportunity to develop my commitment to Armenia.

What are the activities of the committee and how does it serve the local community? 

We decided, in agreement with UGAB France and AGBU, to set up an AGBU Young Professionals Committee in Nice, with the aim of federating and bringing together young people of Armenian origin in Nice, and more generally on the Côte d'Azur.

The aim was to offer young professionals opportunities for networking, both personal and professional, but also for community involvement, through social, cultural, and humanitarian events.

In hindsight, I think the creation of this committee was necessary in Nice, as it enables young Armenians on the Côte d'Azur to get together and meet each other. As Nice is an attractive city for many young working people, we noticed that our network of young professionals included not only people from Nice, but also Armenians from other French cities and even other countries. This network enabled them not only to meet their peers, but also to continue to get involved in Armenian community life as they had done in their home town, and for some, to discover community life and the desire to get involved through our committee.

What three words best describe the YP program? 

Networking, culture, and solidarity.

Networking, because we want every Armenian in our community to find in AGBU a place where they can share common experiences, an organization that is a source of opportunities that meet the needs and aspirations of everyone, whatever their age or background.

Culture, because what better organization than AGBU to disseminate and promote the richness of Armenian history and heritage.

Solidarity, because our nation faces immense challenges that call for long-term commitment and support from the diaspora.

What are some of YP Nice’s recent achievements and current initiatives?

In October 2022 and December 2023, we took part in AGBU ACT program, which helps refugees from Artsakh in Armenia. In 2022, we organized a concert by an Armenian polyphonic choir at Nice's Anglican Church. The concert drew over 200 people and raised a substantial sum for AGBU's Global Relief Fund. In 2023, we organized a number of afterworks with speakers sharing their entrepreneurial experience and knowledge in various fields of expertise. This format has proved very popular with our community, and we hope to repeat it in 2024. We have also organized cultural events such as conferences, lectures, film screenings, and exhibitions.

Finally, we have launched the "Arménice" column on Radio Chrétienne Francophone de Nice Côte d'Azur. These are columns about Armenia, Armenian culture, AGBU and its programs. They are broadcast weekly on Thursday and Saturday. The podcasts are available at the following link: www.rcf.fr/actualité/armenice.

In the future, we would like to organize other cultural events, social events such as afterworks or dinners, as well as charity events. From May 17 to 20, 2024, we will travel for a weekend in Venice, with Young Professionals from all over the world, to discover the Isle of Saint Lazarus of the Armenians and learn more about the Armenian presence in Venice.

Name one thing about AGBU that you wish more people knew?

It's important for people to know that AGBU has existed worldwide for 118 years and is the world's largest charitable organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Armenian heritage.

The international dimension of this organization is fundamental. Our Young Professionals Committee and our activities are part of AGBU's global Young Professionals network, which today includes 41 committees around the world. It's a network that enables us to meet other Young Professionals from everywhere, both virtually - through online meetings - and face-to-face, through events such as FOCUS, who are part of the AGBU family. It's these international links that enable us to join forces and make an even greater impact in our projects for Armenia.

How has your involvement with AGBU shaped who you are with your family, friends, career?

Both my parents are Armenian from Istanbul and I'm part of the first generation born in France. I've benefited from a dual culture that I feel is a great asset and one that I like to share with all the Armenians and non-Armenians around me, both personally and professionally. What's more, my involvement with AGBU arouses the curiosity of those around me, and I'm always proud to present the organization and its programs.

In 2018, when I was a speech therapy student, I had the opportunity, through a humanitarian mission, to meet a little deaf girl in a village in Armenia. With a medical student friend, we wanted to help her family, and this little girl was able to benefit from a cochlear implant that today enables her to hear. This wonderful experience makes me want to continue my commitment to Armenia through my profession as a speech therapist.

On a more personal note, what is your favorite Armenian tradition?

My favorite Armenian tradition is the blessing of the grapes, which takes place every year on Assumption Sunday. The blessed grapes represent the spirit of Christ, and the feast is a celebration of Jesus' love for his Blessed Mother. After the ceremony, the blessed grapes are distributed to the faithful who haven't eaten any all year to date. They can also take some home, especially for elderly members of the family who are unable to attend. It's a celebration I've been taking part in at church ever since I was a little girl, and for me it represents a wonderful moment of sharing.

April 25, 2024