In reference to the AGBU LA Choir, I believe that every choir practice is an opportunity to learn and be inspired by our music, our history and the wealth of our musical culture. I believe that music is a universal language, it is therapy and it heals.
Educator by profession, Realtor & Executive Assistant by trade, mother of two, a lifetime AGBU volunteer, an AGBU Lazar Najarian Alumna, an amateur soprano, Garine Seuylemezian found purpose and inspiration in teaching school children, has taught at different Armenian schools including both AGBU MDS (Manoogian-Demirdjian School) and AGBU VTM schools, and is currently managing her husband’s REMAX Dream Properties Realty business. She is passionate about Armenian Music, Theater & Arts and the preservation of the latter.
Her vision and goal at AGBU is to further AGBU’s mission by gathering young Armenian Americans under its umbrella, invite them to discover the many programs AGBU offers, highlighting the benefits of belonging to an organization that promotes positive change within the Diaspora and Armenia, thus creating continuity and seamless transition for the next generation to pass on the torch.
What is your current role with AGBU?
I am currently the Chairperson of the AGBU Pasadena Choir, which was established three years ago.
Our debut concert was in November 2019 to a sold-out auditorium. It was very exciting; we had a wonderful program. Unfortunately, with COVID, we had to stop practicing in person, but continued our practices virtually, and even had a concert online. We recently resumed our in-person practices and are excited to plan a performance later this year.
How did you get involved with AGBU?
Technically, I was born into AGBU and didn't really have a choice, but I can say it was the best gift my parents gave me. Both were heavily involved in theater and performing arts. My mom sang with the AGBU Spentarian choir and my father was an actor with the Aleppo Atamian Theater Group – it was in the family.
I was involved in the scouts movement from a young age. Later, I joined the University Students Committee (Ousanoghagan) in Aleppo and then became a leader. I have also served in both the theater and choir committees.
After I moved to Los Angeles, CA in the late 80s, my parents had set two conditions for me, to allow my continued stay in LA. One was to register for college and the second was to get involved with the local AGBU. I did just that. At the time, the AGBU Pasadena-Glendale Chapter did not exist. I used to drive from Glendale all the way to the San Fernando Valley to serve on the AGBU SFV Scouts Committee. A few years later, we formed the AGBU Glendale Chapter where I volunteered on the founders’ committee. Not having a Center, we used to rent the Salvation Army facility once a week for 4hours. It allowed us to gather, organize programs (sports and scouts) and grow our circle of AGBU volunteers. When the AGBU Pasadena Center was established in the early 90’s, it became the center for all AGBU Glendale/Pasadena activities. I continued my volunteer involvement through the Scouts and later the AGBU VTM High School Parents’ Auxiliary Committee. I am also the founding director of the AGBU Summer Day Camp, currently Camp Amaras, where I served for as a director for three years.
How have you made a positive impact on others through AGBU?
Starting with Scouts, I have always seen it as a second school. It’s where children learn life skills, community service and necessary professional skills. As a former Scout Leader, I hope I was able to make a difference in young people’s lives and have inspired them as I was inspired by my own leaders, years ago.
In reference to the AGBU LA Choir, I believe that every choir practice is an opportunity to learn and be inspired by our music, our history and the wealth of our musical culture. I believe that music is a universal language, it is therapy and it heals. I am hoping that with the creation of the AGBU LA Choir, our members are able to benefit from this amazing opportunity.
What is your current focus at AGBU? Where do you see yourself headed in the next couple of years?
We have a lot of exciting developments with the choir. Barring circumstances beyond our control, we are getting ready for a performance filled with lots of surprises. We are now thinking beyond just music, as singing is only one part of the arts that heal and touch the soul. We are currently working on a music school which encompasses a children’s choir, musical instruments, and vocal training.
What are your long-term goals with AGBU?
Even though I would like to stay involved, I won't be in this role forever. My only long-term goal within AGBU is to find ways of recruiting young people into the organization and creating continuity. We are blessed to have an extremely impressive, highly educated, trained and specialized young generation, I trust in their ability and dedication to preserve our culture for generations to come, I'd like my grandkids to sing in the AGBU choir or be AGBU scouts. If you had asked me this question 20 years ago, I don't know what I would have answered. I met my husband through AGBU scouts here in LA, and thanks to the adamant volunteers and the persistence of the leaders who maintained the continuity, both my children were able to benefit from the Scouts Program. Currently, my daughter serves as Head of Girl Scouts and my son is a "Yerets” Scout. So, I guess part of that vision is already unfolding before my eyes!
If you could describe AGBU as an organization in only three words what would those three words be?
Community. Benevolent. Proactive.
How has your involvement with AGBU shaped who you are with your family and friends and your career?
Growing up in Aleppo Syria, AGBU gave me opportunities and experiences I otherwise would not have had, I think of it as my second home, literally. All the members of my family are involved, and I can confidently say, it played a huge role in shaping my kids. When I moved to the USA, my sister was the only family member I had. AGBU became my second family. All my friends, all the people my kids call Aunty and Uncle (Mokour and Keri) are my AGBU friends. Without the support of those people, I could not have done this alone. AGBU is the place that grounds me, where I feel safe.
What are you looking forward to personally and professionally in 2022?
Even though my education background is in child development, and I was a teacher for 25 years, the last 5 years I committed in helping my husband in his Real Estate business. I went back to school and got my Real Estate certifications and licenses. Overall, I think I am at a point in my life, where I'm looking to learn and grow daily, constantly creating a better version of who I was yesterday.
What is one thing about AGBU that you wish people knew?
That it is a nonpartisan organization whose mission is to preserve the Armenian identity and support the motherland. You would think that is basic knowledge, but a lot of people don’t know that.
What are two fun facts about yourself that people don't know?
I have an authentic Armenian Van Cat named “Gata” because her fur is soft like gata, the pastry! Another fun fact is that when I was four years old, my parents forgot me at the performing arts center at AGBU. They were both performing on stage, and they had taken me with them; I had fallen asleep backstage in the stroller. They were so excited after the performance, that they just forgot me there! Mind you distances are short in Aleppo and they quickly came back to pick me up!
What is your proudest accomplishment in life?
That would be my children. I have a son and a daughter and I’m very proud of them. I am proud of my personal accomplishments, and what my husband and I were able to build in this country considering we are both immigrants, but my children are my proudest accomplishments.