AGBU Europe Spotlight - March 2021
AGBU officially launched its first German chapter on December 10, 2020 in Berlin. Founded by Georgi Ambarzumjan, president, and Ohanes Altunkaya, vice-president, AGBU Germany aims to build a strong network of Armenians in Germany committed to enhance AGBU’s global mission devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programmes.
Ohanes Altunkaya - Senior Business ConsultantGeorgi Ambarzumjan - M&A Lawyer How did you get involved with AGBU and why were you drawn to the organization?O: We share a big admiration for the historic achievements of AGBU and my family has been members of AGBU since early times in Syria. In 2007, I co-founded the German Armenian Student Club HAIK which became a partner of AGBU. We realized early on that AGBU does not only set a great example for Armenian resilience but serves as a blueprint for Armenian institutions in the diaspora due to their professional approach and high standards in community work.
G: In order to serve our community, it is critical to learn about our fellow German-Armenians and their diverse backgrounds. The Armenians in Germany are not a monolithic group as they arrived from various countries in different eras. For example, most Armenian migrants who arrived in the 1990s or later, apart from a number of successful entrepreneurs, had little time for accumulating wealth, while e.g., Armenians who came as guest workers from Turkey in the 1960s are living in the 3rd, sometimes 4th generation, and benefited from the social market economy system in Germany. They predominantly started as small-scale entrepreneurs after the guest worker contract periods had ended and grew their business in the next generations. This diverse structure of the German-Armenian diaspora leads to a segmented assimilation process, various outlooks and interests in engaging within the diaspora. Certainly, not all Armenians with similar backgrounds share the same views or interests, yet it is always valuable to have an understanding of the plethora of cultural influences of all our diaspora members.
If you could describe your programme in only 3 words, what would they be?
G: Leadership - Networking - Culture
Could you share with us some of your achievements and future plans for the chapter?
G: To give another example of our work and future plans: Our online commemoration project on the occasion of April 24, 2020 became the central genocide commemoration event in Germany. All in-person events were canceled and at the beginning of April there was a risk that we would not be able to commemorate our ancestors adequately. Hovig took the initiative to set up an online event and we used our professional and personal networks to reach out to personalities with high public visibility in the German and Armenian cosmos. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate AGBU Germany's ability to represent the German-Armenian community by attracting important personalities to our cause. In total, more than a dozen speakers and musicians came to our event, including leading German political and media figures. Our personal highlight was Srpazan Servopé Isakhanyan, who ended our commemoration with his intercession and gave us his blessing for our chapter.
What is one thing about AGBU that you wish people knew?O: Throughout its 115-year history, AGBU has stood firmly alongside the Armenian people and has been a guarantor of the survival, development and growth of the Armenian community. The unwavering determination of the founders, leaders and members to stand up for the prosperity of all Armenians has moved mountains. Every Armenian should know this. How has your involvement with AGBU shaped who you are with your family, your friends and in your career?O: Taking responsibility for the community and volunteering was something I experienced with both my parents and their parents, so it was just the most natural thing for me to engage in the community. It is an enrichment and a great motivation to pull together with all friends in the international network of AGBU. This experience has therefore strengthened my view and confirmed that there are advantages in the fate of being a member of a diaspora community. We as Armenians with diverse backgrounds have great potential that must be harnessed for the benefit of the Armenian community around the world, but also an obligation to other vulnerable communities and thus to the world.
G: Working with many successful AGBU leaders has shown me the importance of serving as role models. People who are not yet using their potential for the common good of their Armenian brothers and sisters or the society that surrounds them can use role models as an incentive to think about where their strengths lie that could benefit those around them.
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email@example.comAGBU operates a number of programmes and projects with the help of hundreds of volunteers throughout Europe. Our Spotlight series highlights individuals and committees who help make our work possible. To get involved with AGBU, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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