You know, I used to wonder, “How can I become a significant part of society?” And right after that question, another would follow, “But does society want me?” In the town where I was born, it was pretty simple – society is just a word, a pointless word in a world where boys were meant to work for a living, and girls had only one duty – to become good wives. That unbreakable mentality of Armenian culture comes from a time when strong women, who were motivated to change, invent, and fight, were either ignored or judged as being immoral. The saddest part was that there was no one to tell me that I was capable of achieving my goals. Well, for a society that had no awareness of how powerful it could be if it developed purpose and took concrete steps toward achieving its goals, thinking like this was natural. Meanwhile, we could be shaping a society consisting of intelligent and strong individuals. And that society itself would be capable of improving hundreds of lives, fighting for the fairest values, and changing this world for the better.
However, having quite a stubborn personality, I decided to leave that mentality behind and work toward my goals that were too dear to let go of. And hands down, the base of that journey was an education. I always knew I wanted to be a writer and even knew where I could become one, but I was not brave enough to voice my dream. Today, sitting in one of the labs of American University of Armenia and typing this, I recall the dilemma of whether to tell my parents or not. Every time I passed by the building that reminded me of an enormous trapezoid standing on height in the city center I had such a feeling of intensity that I wanted to be inside of it more and more over time. Thus, it made me speak up and share with my family, who, to my surprise, were really supportive of my idea. After two years, here I am, a part of the huge trapezoid, the intensity of which ss nothing compared to the moment when you become a part of it. So let me take the opportunity to share a few thoughts.
The American University of Armenia! Sometimes even the name itself gives a strange sense of being unattainable, luxurious, and the word ‘American’ sounds too cliché for a lot of Armenians. It might even be considered as a place for rich people only. Stereotypes aside, in my experience, all you need to be a part of AUA is the drive and the will to work hard. Your journey begins as a freshman during your first semester. This is when you start to gain a very valuable experience, from which I want to underline the three points that changed my life the most – integrity, opportunity and strength.
The American University of Armenia provides integrity to all its members both academically and personally. From the outside, this concept might often be misinterpreted. But stepping inside the trapezoid, you see many people from different worlds and cultures live as one big family, and it becomes clear that what allows them to respect each other’s values and beliefs is not something material, but integrity itself. It is truly astonishing to see how students from the capital, regions and the whole Diaspora share absolutely the same opportunities. Coming from Ijevan, Tavush region, the AUA community never made me like “less”. I never felt depreciation or neglect by anyone. The only decisive factor that exists is hard work in all aspects. It does not matter who you are or where you come from. As a student of AUA, you are required to simply follow the codes and, most importantly, not to take your chance for granted.
Above all, AUA is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to develop as a useful, intelligent person and to shape modern Armenian society. Studying here is an opportunity that no one will miss because of financial difficulties. As the whole institution was founded by the Diaspora community, they aim to give the chance of receiving a high-quality education to anyone who is ambitious enough. Thanks to generous donations many talented, intelligent and enthusiastic individuals are discovered and are given the chance to show how significant they can be for society and for Armenia. As a future writer, AUA gave me the chance to improve my writing skills, to be a part of many projects and be appreciated for my development.
Lastly, studying at AUA gives me strength. I can feel the transformation in every step I take and with each challenge I face. The time studying here made me trust myself and believe in my goals. It taught me to express my opinions, ideas, and the person I am without being afraid to be criticized or humiliated. Finally, AUA has taught me to take risks because only then can you move forward and be successful. This transformation has made me very thankful and motivates me to do my best.
Let me just break the false stereotype. The American University of Armenia does not make you American. It makes you a part of a society full of strong people who do not only live for themselves, but also for the country they are a part of.
Contributed by student writer