Dear Fellow AGBU Members,

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, I am pleased to extend to you on behalf of myself and the AGBU Central Board of Directors our warmest greetings and best wishes.

The past year was a difficult one for our organization and membership, due to the added challenges of the worldwide economic crisis. However, we are proud to affirm that we had an active and productive year, with numerous accomplishments and diverse activities in the homeland and diaspora alike. We are optimistic that the coming year will be economically less turbulent and shall bring better tidings for our organization and our homeland.

Noteworthy among the programs of our worldwide chapters, which aimed at accomplishing AGBU’s educational, cultural and benevolent mission, were the brisk activity of our youth organizations and especially the Young Professionals Group whose membership is expending. The Northern California and New York YP groups both marking their tenth anniversaries where honored by the Central Board of Directors this year. Their many social and networking activities benefited AGBU programs in Armenia. The traditional biennial FOCUS event, which took place in Chicago this year, once again brought together a large crowd of the alumni of the Internship Program from all over the world.

Two hundred fifty competitive and high achieving graduates from our eight secondary schools in North and South Americas and the Middle East moved on to colleges and universities. Many of them had the opportunity to visit Armenia and experience the life changing impact of the homeland. The Alex and Marie Manoogian School in Southfield, Michigan became endowed with a brand-new, state-of-the-art high school building through the magnanimous donation of Louise Manoogian Simone and Richard Manoogian, while the High School and Center in Pasadena were strengthened through a generous endowment from Vatche and Tamar Manoukian.

The AGBU Virtual College successfully completed its internet based summer and fall courses in Armenian language, history, and culture that are offered in six languages, and is preparing to start its third semester with the participation of hundreds from around the world.

The New York, Paris and Yerevan Summer Intern Programs were successfully implemented, as were the diasporan Armenian youth trips to Armenia and the scouting jamborees at Camp Antranik.

In addition to the continuing support provided to the American University of Armenia through the AGBU endowment fund, more than 300 top students pursuing higher education in various countries of the world received scholarships in various professional fields, particularly the performing arts, social sciences and the preparation of clergy. For the second year in a row, a new group of our talented young stars in the performing arts performed in concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Besides the AGBU’s permanent programs and investments in Armenia and Karabakh, particularly the ongoing support of the Children’s Centers, the Senior Dining Centers and the sponsorship of Armenia’s Chess Federation, the construction of the sports and cultural complex in Nubarashen was completed, and the Writers’ Union of Armenia was endowed by a new printing house.

Being particularly solicitous of the spiritual role played by the Armenian Church, AGBU continued its close relationship with the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin through the improvement of resources for the preservation and study of treasures of Armenian spiritual and cultural heritage, as well as through its contributions toward continuing construction programs.

Our European district and the Nubarian Library engaged in noteworthy activity through scientific congresses organized to acquaint international academic and political circles with issues involving the just rights of the Armenian people, the protection of our cultural monuments, as well as to educate European public opinion concerning the realities of the historical evolution of the Karabagh Question.

The year 2009 will be also be remembered for the events pertaining to the opening of the border and establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey, which constitute a distinct juncture in the history of our people. Our organization had a characteristic position in connection with these events.

These developments, which stirred and prompted action on the part of the Armenians in Armenia and the rest of the world, gave a new emphasis to AGBU’s Armenia-centered activity, which, we are convinced, will also define the subsequent course of our chapters’ activity, in terms of maintaining Armenia as the center of the diasporan Armenians’ attention and linking our activities, especially in the case of the youth, to the daily life and developments in the homeland. In this regard, it is also important for our chapters to encourage the participation of their circles in the programs organized by AGBU in Armenia for diasporan Armenian youths.

We note with satisfaction that the young and energetic members and new chair people that have joined many of our district committees, chapter executive committees and educational committees are studying and planning new organizational measures in anticipation of future developments. We hope that the many thousands of our graduates, who have enjoyed the organization’s support, will assist in these efforts. The inclusion of new members and the productive use of local assetsthat make chapters’ activity self-sufficient, are important prerequisites for the success of AGBU’s general programs.

To that end, we extend our warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year marked by prosperous activity and success.


Berge Setrakian


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