BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The world’s largest non-profit Armenian organization, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), concluded its 86th annual assembly here, with the participation of delegates from Germany, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, United States, Lebanon, France, Greece, Italy, United Kingdom, Russia, Syria, Switzerland, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina.
As of 2009, the net asset of the AGBU has been assessed at $332,032,169. During that period, the AGBU has allocated $18,947,504 for educational, $8,905,988 for cultural, $2,113,586 for religious and $3,143,586 for humanitarian purposes. AGBU runs and supports programs in Armenia, such as the American University of Armenia, the St. Nersess Hospital, AGBU Children’s Centers, Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ultrasound Center and the Vaskenian Theological Seminary of Holy Echmiadzin. In Karabagh, they contribute to the Karabagh Chamber Orchestra and the Karabagh Repopulation Project. In the diaspora, AGBU sponsors over 30 day and Saturday schools in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Australia. More than 6,500 students are enrolled in these schools, where the curriculum includes instruction about their heritage and identity. Today, the AGBU Scholarship Program offers financial assistance to a broader range of Armenian students around the world such as AGBU Fellowships, Performing Arts Fellowships, Religious Studies Fellowships, International Scholarships and Heritage Scholar Grants, as well as the New York, Paris and Yerevan Summer Intern Programs. Along with its many cultural centers and day schools, the AGBU operates also Camp Nubar in the US, Colonie de Vacances in France, and other sites in Bulgaria and Syria where thousands of youth come together.
Since 1995, the AGBU Young Professionals have been a growing network of YP groups and supporters from around the world who promote Armenian identity and heritage for young Armenians between the ages of 22 to 40.
The 86th annual meetings program began on Wednesday, October 13, with a concert by violinist Sami Merdinian in the French Embassy of Argentina. The ambassador of France to Argentina, Jean-Pierre Asvazadourian, accepted the petition of the local AGBU chapter to host the delegates of the AGBU 86th Annual Assembly. (In 1984, when the AGBU 69th General Assembly was held in Buenos Aires, the US Embassy also hosted all the assembly delegates, headed by Life President Alex Manoogian.)
The concert was attended by the AGBU President Berge Setrakian and his wife Vera; AGBU Central Board members, Ambassador of Armenia in Argentina Vladimir Karmirshalyan and his wife; the Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church for Argentina and Chile, Archbishop Kissag Mouradian; businessman Eduardo Eurnekian; members of delegations and members of AGBU Buenos Aires. The concert was a true pleasure for the delegates, which ended with cocktail reception by Asvazadourian.
Afterwards, the delegates moved to the AGBU headquarters on Armenia Street, and at the Nazar and Artemis Nazarian Hall, the Young Professionals of AGBU Buenos Aires officially greeted all the founders and former chairmen of the local Youth League Organization on its 70th anniversary and the alumni of AGBU Marie Manoogian Educational Institute. The Educational Institute was founded in 1974 and starting in 1979 until now, it has graduated 605 young Armenians from its high school. They were the first students in the diaspora who began Friday night dinners with the help of their parents, to raise funds for their graduate travels to the motherland, Armenia. This tradition now has been adopted by hundreds of Armenian day schools all over the diaspora today.