October 2014 saw the beginning of the Republican Interschool Chess Championship uniting the Republic’s students and Armenia’s chess lovers. The tense competition to select the best team and individual players will last 8 months. Over the last 9 years, 1,500 students have competed each year for the coveted first prize. Each team must first win their school competition to go through to the next round. The 2nd Community round of the Olympiad of 2014 took place on November 18th the winners of which will now go on to represent their communities in the next round. The third and final round of the Competition will take place in the Spring of 2015.



As the number of Syrian Armenian students arriving in Armenia continues to grow, AGBU is taking measures to ensure that their education does not suffer as a result of their displacement. Considering AGBU’s commitment to support Syrian Armenians in Armenia, the Union plans to cover tuition fees for Syrian Armenian students during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 academic years by allocating $130,000 each year to the initiative. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation will also provide an additional $130,000 annually, while the government of the Republic of Armenia has agreed to offer additional funds as well as significantly reduced tuition for Syrian Armenian students.






“Yerevan and Aleppo of the 70’s” - a charity concert with the participation of prominent Armenian musicians from Armenia and Syria took place on August 29 and 30 at Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall. The idea of organizing such an event came from Jean Vartan, a Syrian-Armenian musician, and Vasken Asatryan, Artistic Director of the «70's Yerevan» project. Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) sponsored the concert, which was also supported by the RA Ministry of Diaspora, RA Ministry of Culture, as well as “Vivacell- MTS” Company. The concert was conducted by famous TV hostess Susanna Shahinyan and Jean Vartan. Well known singers Aramo, Emmy, Gayane Hovhannisyan, Radik Gabrielyan, Rena Tee, Jean Vartan, Lila Vardanian-Boghossian, Garo Daghdevirenian, Hovik Garabedian and others performed famous and beloved Armenian and international hits of the 70's, from Konstantin Orbelyan and «Zartnir Lao» to Eagles' «Hotel California» and Santana's «Black Magic Woman». The concert was accompanied by the “70’s Yerevan” Orchestra, consisting mainly of musicians of Konstantin Orbelyan’s Armenian State Pop Orchestra. The concert was attended by the RA Minister of Diaspora Hranoush Hakobyan, AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian, and AGBU Interim Director Hovig Eordekian, other state officials, intellectuals, artists and guests. In her welcoming speech Minister Hranush Hakobyan particularly mentioned: “I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers and sponsors of this wonderful initiative and the artists. Today, people in Aleppo are being killed, and the major Armenian community is in a state of war. We have gathered here to express our help and support to Syrian-Armenians.They feel that the Motherland is by their side and that they are not alone in this hardship. We are strong together, and together we will win and become even stronger. We have existed, we exist and we will grow.” This concert is another step towards the integration of Syrian-Armenians in Armenia and proof that culture is one of the most important ways of bringing the nation together. The concert ended with the performance of the famous “Zartnir Lao” by all the musicians and the entire audience standing on their feet and singing along the beloved patriotic song with the artists.





11th AGBU “Discover Armenia” Program Brings 44 Diaspora-Armenian Youths to Armenia

In 2013 the AGBU Discover Armenia program celebrated its 10th anniversary. This year the program opened the first page of a decade inspired by strength and enthusiasm. This year the 11th Discover Armenia Program brought 44 Diaspora-Armenian youth from the USA, Lebanon, Canada, Monaco, Russia, Syria and France. As part of the three-week program, the participants went sightseeing, visited various cultural events, met with political and public figures. “I did not know much about my roots, but I have always been interested in my identity. When I had this opportunity to visit Armenia with my brother and sister as part of the same program, I decided that I had to take it. Before arriving in the Homeland I had quite different opinions about it, and now I am glad that what I imagined was completely different to the reality of Armenia and I am sure that in the future everything will be even better.” said Ian Walters from the USA. Participation in voluntary community projects and a visit to Artsakh are the key components of the program. As part of community projects the AGBU Discover Armenia Youth Program has been cooperating with Fuller Armenia, reaching out to needy families with housing problems. This year support was offered to Silikyan district in Yerevan. The Gdoyan family received help from Fuller Armenia and AGBU Youth in completing the construction of their house. “We have been renting an apartment in this block for years. I have two schoolchildren, 8 and 10 years of age. I work as a teacher. We have been constructing this house for the last five years but there were still a lot of things to do. Learning that Fuller Center and AGBU are carrying out such an initiative, I decided to turn to them for help. I must confess, that I am delighted with these children and their unity. They have come to the Homeland from the Diaspora with the aim of helping people like me. Being from different countries, not knowing each other very well they have united around a specific purpose to help an Armenian. I cannot find the words to express my gratitude. I am very grateful to everyone”, says Arpine Gdoyan, the owner of the house.







For the last 8 years, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) has organized the Yerevan Summer Internship Program, where students of Armenian descent from all around the world have been able to gain hands on experience in their chosen fields as well as discover their roots and explore their Homeland shape the future of both Armenia and their local communities. Over the years, this program has given over 200 students the opportunity to realize their potential, understand their own history and heritage while at the same time make an important contribution, identify their own abilities and most importantly strengthen their ties with the Homeland. This year the AGBU Yerevan Summer Internship Program (YSIP) hosted 20 students from the USA, Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Bulgaria and Austria. For six consecutive weeks they lived as an Armenian in Yerevan seeing the highlights and the low points of life in the capital. In addition to their daily work schedules, the program also included Armenian language and Armenian traditional dance classes, weekend trips outside Yerevan, evening strolls in the capital and most importantly a 4 day trip to Artsakh. “Every Armenian should visit Armenia, not only Yerevan, but all of the regions of Armenia and Artsakh. If someone stays away from his roots, he cannot be a creative person, as creativity is the most important purpose in life. This program is enthralling yet troubling. You feel enthusiastic during the first week, for the second and third weeks you feel concerned about what can be done to overcome the difficulties locals are faced with on a daily basis, how you can use your knowledge and do your best to be helpful to your Homeland.” said one of the program participants Meghrik Hayitian from Austria. This year, participants of the program were hosted by such renowned organizations as the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF), RA Ministry of Diaspora, the Women’s Resource Center, Malayan’s Eye Care Center, “Arabkir” Medical Center, Deem Communications, Byblos Bank, Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, “Storaket” Architectural Studio, Armenian Monuments Awareness Project (AMAP), Armenian-British Business Chamber, USAID, One Armenia, National Instruments and other leading companies. Speaking about the program, Elvira Meliksetyan representative of the Women’s Resource Center mentioned” It is not the first time that we cooperate with AGBU, and we are always very glad to have an AGBU Intern, as we always have very active, organized and smart young interns, working with whom is productive not only for us but for them as well. We have organized theatrical performance together, participated in various campaigns. Their participation adds more creativity than technique to these campaigns.” As part of the program, the group also visited Artsakh, learned about the history and cultural monuments of Artakh, met the Chairman of NKR National Assembly Ashot Ghulyan and NKR Foreign Affairs Minister Karen Mirzoyan. Program participants also visited Shoushi, and spent an unforgettable day discovering the hidden treasure of the beautiful city. In Yerevan they were able to enjoy both classical Armenian cultural events such as a performance of “Anoush” opera as well as a contemporary performance by Vahe Berberyan. Usually the first and most binding thing that all the participants have in common is their Armenian roots. However, this year this common ground did not apply to everyone. For the first time this year, YSIP had a participant who did not have an Armenia background. Tessa Khroen a dutch student from Leiden University. “I study the history and culture of the Middle East and Russia in Leiden University of Holland. Armenia and countries of former Soviet Union in general are of particular interest to me. But it’s hard in Holland to find good sources of study, that’s why I decided to visit Armenia and see everything with my eyes. Here you understand what it means to be a small nation, how a small nation can survive. Here you understand how powerful language and religion are. ” said Tresa. This program allowed the participants to improve their language skills by incorporating twice weekly Armenian Language classes at the Armenian Virtual College (AVC) and traditional dance classes at the AGBU and Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Nork Children’s Center. 

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