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    Laura bal spotlight

Going the Extra Mile

Laura Bal

Our main objective is to promote the preservation and enrichment of Armenian identity within the Parisian community while seeking to raise awareness and reach out to the non-Armenian public through educational and cultural initiatives suitable for all ages.

Laura Bal has been the Chair of AGBU Paris since September 2023. She has been involved with the organization since childhood, taking part in programs such as Colonie de Vacances, Camp Nubar, Arménie, Terre de Vie, and AGBU ACT — and continues her commitment after several years in the Young Professionals committee, to bring together Armenians from the Île-de-France region through social, cultural, and educational events. 

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

It all started in 2006, when I took part in the AGBU France Colonie de Vacances (Summer Camp) with my cousins, and then in the Séjour de Ski. Over four years, I was lucky enough to forge lasting friendships and memories. Herminé Duzian, the director of these camps, played a huge role in my development within the organization, and we're still very close today.

In 2010, I had the opportunity to take part in Camp Nubar, first as a participant for two years, and then as a counselor for two more years. This experience was a source of extraordinary personal enrichment. It allowed me to discover the Armenian community of the United States, and I forged friendships that remain dear to my heart. Additionally, I’m still connected to those I’ve met through AGBU events around the world. In addition, as a counselor, I developed my sense of responsibility and my knowledge of the English language.

Finally, I was involved as a volunteer in two editions of the volunteer service program Arménie, Terre de Vie, as well as in the first edition of AGBU ACT (Armenians Come Together) in November 2020, just after the 44-day war. My commitment continued when I joined the YP Paris (Young Professionals) committee, culminating in my appointment as Chair of AGBU Paris.

Can you please describe the goals of your chapter and how it serves the local community?

Our main objective is to promote the preservation and enrichment of Armenian identity within the Parisian community while seeking to raise awareness and reach out to the non-Armenian public through educational and cultural initiatives suitable for all ages. We aspire to unite all generations through various events, creating a bridge between generations to share our common traditions and discover the riches of our historical and cultural heritage.

For example, in 2022 AGBU Paris' Alex Manoogian Armenian Cultural Center redesigned its activities for children. Renamed "Petit centre arménien," we offer Armenian language courses as well as artistic activities such as fine arts, traditional Armenian music, dance, singing, and theater. Adults can also take online language courses and practice sports at US Nubar.

We also hold concerts, conferences, and charity dinners at the center and in various locations of the capital.

We aim to strengthen the ties between the local community and the Armenian people by actively participating in AGBU's various programs dedicated to humanitarian aid and socio-economic development. Through these actions, we hope to help raise awareness in the local community and maintain the spirit of solidarity so dear to our organization.

If you could describe your program in only 3 words, what would they be?

Intergenerational, inclusive, and committed.

Could you describe some of your recent achievements and future projects?

We inaugurated our first event during the Christmas period. In collaboration with the AGBU Paris Young Professionals Committee, we organized a Christmas Market showcasing Armenian talent in the fields of decoration, fashion, culture, and crafts. We also wanted to revive the tradition of the AGBU Paris Christmas Dinner, bringing together all generations for a friendly occasion. The dinner introduced participants to talented artists such as flamenco dancer Lori La Armenia, duduk player Artyom Minasyan, and Armenian jazz singer Victoria Alexanyan. Profits from both events were donated to AGBU's Global Relief Fund, as part of a major campaign to support the refugees of Artsakh.

Our goal is to continue showcasing our talents through “Jazz Mazz” concerts, photo exhibitions, and the creation of a book club to promote writers. At the same time, we'll continue to organize events to bring the community together in Paris, the next one being a Tavlou tournament.

Is there anything you'd like people to know about AGBU?

AGBU is an organization that has never failed in its role of ensuring the well-being of our nation and the prosperity of our communities around the world. Being part of AGBU means being part of a family, which you can join at any age and at any time in your life.

If you feel the desire to help and take an active part in our programs and events, AGBU will be able to support you and give you the keys to success.

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

AGBU has played a significant role in every stage of my personal development. Participating in AGBU initiatives, like the renovation of schools, living with local families, meeting village children, and supporting the refugees of Artsakh, have shaped my personality and my community involvement.

AGBU's global events, such as General Assemblies and FOCUS, are opportunities to collaborate, share ideas, and collectively reflect on initiatives to be implemented. It gives me the drive to build projects and above all, to work alongside motivated and committed people.

Thanks to AGBU, I've forged lifelong friendships with people from all over the world, and my experiences within the organization have enriched my sense of commitment.

February 02, 2024