By    Sona Zeitlian

AGBU Hye Geen and its Young Circle have been hosting annual international conferences since 2006, presenting unique perspectives of Armenian life with a variety of themes. This year’s international conference is in partnership with the Armenian Studies Program of the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and is entitled “Women Journalists at the Forefront of Empowerment.” It is scheduled to canvas current social issues facing the global Armenian community.

The event will take place at the University Student Union’s Grand Salon, of 18111 Nordhoff Street on Saturday November 5, ,2022. Registration will start at 9 a.m., the conference will duly begin at 10 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. To attend the conference, RSVP to AGBU Hye Geen by October 31, call or text at (818) 731 5456. Donation for adults is $50, for students with ID attendance is free.

The international conference will start with welcoming remarks by the head of the AGBU Hye Geen organizing committee, Nellie Yacoubian. She will highlight the goals of the conference, namely educating the Armenian American diaspora on current social issues facing the global Armenian community.

The day’s moderator Liz Ohannesian, a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist covering arts, culture and music will comment on her choice of a career path to empower her not only to communicate with her own community, but perhaps have the opportunity to partake in what is being tentatively considered by Armenia’s High Commission for Diasporan Affairs.

Then the moderator will call on the day’s featured speakers.

The conference committee has worked diligently to ensure the participation of highly qualified women journalists. Among them is Astrig Agopian, a French-Armenian multimedia journalist, currently based in Yerevan as a freelance correspondent. She is also the co-founder of the popular Namag, a weekly newsletter to help English speakers understand Armenian issues of the day.

A recurrent theme of Agopian’s articles is her conviction that being Armenian is a right and a responsibility. This theme is expressed in her article entitled “From One War to Another: Young Syrian-Armenians Struggle to Find Their Place in Armenia.” Agopian is also concerned about the human toll of war as expressed in her article about prisoners of war (POW) and the anxiety of families caught in the turmoil of war. Among these articles are the following: “What if Someone Buried My Son” and “Children and War Trauma; We Have to Stop Lying to Them.”

Lillian Avedian is a journalist and poet based in New York. She has published extensively in the Armenian Weekly about domestic politics and geopolitics in the south Caucasus. Examining the perspectives of the Artsakh conflict resolution, she has written about the significance of the “red lines” in the normalization process with Turkey and Azerbaijan. She has also written about Armenian contemporary art in “The Future of Things Past,” blending art with history and reinterpreting memory to inspire a new generation of Armenian art collectors.

Yerevan-born Ellina Abovian is a Los Angeles based TV broadcast journalist. She has been Emmy nominated and is a lively, knowledgeable presence on the local KTLA 5 channel, the highest-rated news magazine in Southern California. She has covered a variety of current events from wildfires to mass shootings, from Santa Monica highlights to the impact of global news on the local community. She has also been involved in raising awareness for the Armenian Genocide. Her coverage of the Armenian American museum’s breaking ground in Glendale has enjoyed widespread popularity.

The Stepanakert-born fourth speaker, Lika (Anzhelika) Zakaryan is a freelance journalist based in Artsakh. She has studied at the Peace Work Institute of YMCA-Europe, specializing in conflict management and peace-building methods. She has worked in a rehabilitation center as a social worker, as well as in Artsakh’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Tourism as a project and social media manager. Later on, she has honed her conflict resolution skills in Germany. Then back io Armenia, she has joined the media outlet CivilNet’s team working for Artsakh.  During the recent war, she has continued reporting as a freelance journalist.

Lika’s studies and work experience have helped her understand the complex nature of long-simmering ethnic tensions and the need to build bridges of political cooperation. Her writings reflect her appreciation of Armenian diaspora’s soft power in balanced diplomacy, in lobbying and negotiating differences to overcome distrust and hostility.

Lika’s wartime diary was turned into a book in 2021. It is entitled “44 Days: Diary from an Invisible War “It is published by Creative Armenia. A film by Garin Hovannisian also features the wartime diary.

Finally, having announced that a listing of the speakers’ articles will be included in AGBU Hye Geen’s website, moderator Liz Ohannesian initiated a Question-and-Answer session, creating further discussion opportunities.

AGBU Hye Geen and its Young Circle’s well organized international conference is set to succeed in placing dedicated Armenian women journalists at the forefront of empowerment.

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