AGBU Celebrates Milan Chapter’s Centennial

1 May 2012

The 100-year anniversary of the AGBU Milan Chapter brought together several distinguished guests, including AGBU President Berge Setrakian, to look back on the highlights of Italy’s vibrant Armenian diaspora community and plan for AGBU’s bright future both in the country and across Europe.

The occasion of the centennial also served as an opportunity for AGBU Europe to convene a board meeting, and from April 27 to April 29, 2012, a series of conferences were held alongside cultural events. Each was attended by Setrakian, members of the AGBU Central Board and Council of Trustees, and members of the AGBU France and Paris Boards.

The weekend commenced with a meeting led by the governor of Milan Province, Bruno Dapei, who greeted the delegation and gave an overview of themes concerning Milan’s Armenian community and Armenia as a whole. His remarks were followed by a welcome dinner attended by over a hundred guests at one of the oldest restaurants in Milan.

On the second day, the AGBU Europe Board arrived at the Armenian House of Milan ready to discuss a number of items on their agenda that included AGBU activities in Europe, Armenia and Karabakh and youth programs globally.

As the centennial celebration drew to a close on Saturday, April 28, guests were treated to a special evening program filled with music and festivities.

The night began at the Armenian House, where chapter chair Gueguel Khatchadourian delivered a speech applauding the hard work and dedication of former Milan Chapter chairmen, and introduced guest speaker Father Levon Zekian of the Mekhitarist Congregation of Venice, who spoke of the importance of charity in Armenian culture.

Following his words, pianist Nune Hayrapetyan performed the works of Aram Khachaturian, Arno Babajanian, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and other famed composers. When it came time to cut the celebratory cake, Mr. and Mrs. Karnig Yacoubian, AGBU benefactors, were invited to do the honors.

The AGBU Milan Chapter was one of the many that the organization established across Europe in its founding years, as it expanded rapidly to meet the growing needs of the Armenian diaspora. Then and now, the Armenian diaspora community represented a small minority of Italy’s population.

Nonetheless, over the past century, Armenians across the country have carved a space for themselves, preserving their heritage while integrating into Italian culture. Mr. Setrakain noted at the conclusion of Saturday evening, “AGBU is an organization with a universal philosophy, aiming to preserve our identity, our church, our language and culture. The Milanese Armenian community is small in size, but great in its importance and achievements,” and went on to thank the Milan Chapter for organizing the weekend’s memorable ceremonies.

For all those present, the occasion marked the end of one century of AGBU’s remarkable work in Milan and the start of yet another.