By: Christine Soussa
I had the great pleasure of chatting with my dear friend Noeme Chahenian about all things Bay Area Armenian. As a San Francisco native Noeme is very involved in the Armenian community and is always bringing the community together. She serves on the KZV Alumni Association Board of Directors, is the Secretary of the AGBU Young Professional of Northern California and of course a AIWA-SF supporter and member. Noeme, along with Rose Nemet is Co-Chair of the upcoming 15th Anniversary Celebration of AGBUYP San Francisco Winter Gala Weekend. This year’s event will be extra special; with a focus on the Armenian Genocide Centennial and, “proceeds of the Gala weekend will benefit the AGBU Emergency Humanitarian Relief Fund for Armenians in Syria, and Iraq. This year also marks the 15 year anniversary of Gala so we are going all out.”
To Noeme, the Armenian community is irreplaceable, as it includes her lifelong friends, family and community leaders who have and continue to shape her. As a second generation Armenian, Noeme talks about the importance of admiring and commemorating our culture, language and history while engaging and networking with each other regularly. She says “honoring, remembering and talking about our rich history to keep its legacy alive is critical, but it’s also important that we come together regularly to network with and support the successes of our current generation. It is important that we continue to make a name of ourselves as Armenians.”
She is grateful to the Armenian community, KZV Armenian School, the Armenian Church and various organizations that “bring people together, create identity, shape our morals and remind us of who we are, where we are from and where we are going.” Noeme is respected as a smart, bright spirited, always welcoming and jovial leader, she takes pause and with a resolute tone says, “as Armenians we are so used to our sense of community that sometimes its awesomeness is overlooked, an Armenian can enter into any Armenian church, school or event anywhere in the world and find comfort in its familiarity and love, not all cultures can say that.” She references a trip she took to Burma where she visited an Armenian church. (Details on her trip will be highlighted in a future post).
For her, the Armenian community represents her home away from home. It is with this mindset that Noeme works to bring the community together, whether through mentoring Junior High School students at KZV, contributing to the KZV Alumni Newsletter, or organizing a Young Professionals networking event, Noeme’s focus is to bring together Armenians to celebrate our culture and increase awareness.
A current focus is the planning of the AGBU Young Professionals Gala event on February 13-15. She speaks of the event with great enthusiasm and mentions the importance of acting locally but thinking globally. She notes how the Gala weekend will bring together hundreds of Armenian young professionals from all over the country and world, last year over 300 Armenians attended and many came from Canada, Italy, Lebanon, etc. She is particularly excited about this year’s 15th Anniversary celebration “this year has a special importance, it’s our 15th Anniversary of AGBUYP Winter Gala in San Francisco, it’s the Armenian Genocide Centennial and there is so much happening globally and locally that this year’s fund-raising contribution to the AGBU Humanitarian Emergency Relief Fund in the Middle East has particular significance.” The line-up of events is quite spectacular including wine tasting in Napa and a formal Gala evening at Treasure Island, for full event details and to purchase tickets visit http://www.agbusfwintergala.org/.
When Noeme isn’t bringing the Armenian community together, she manages her family’s 2nd generation fine jewelry and custom design business: Harry’s Jewelry, along with her brother Saro, a fellow KZV Alumni.