Shahan Jebejian and Narek Ghazaryan on Mount Ararat

AUA and AGBU Flags Waved Atop Mount Ararat

3 min read

The American University of Armenia (AUA) is excited to share that Director of Facilities & Services and Constructions Project Manager Shahan Jebejian and Director of Communications Narek Ghazaryan climbed Mount Ararat (5165 meters) on separate trips reaching the summit on July 26 and August 21, respectively. 

Climbing Mount Ararat is a cherished dream for many Armenians. It requires not only strong willpower but also months of serious physical training. Jebejian and Ghazaryan went through tough training before embarking on the sacred journey to Ararat. With tens of other determined patriots, they overcame many difficulties, crossed two basecamps, and on the third day of their journey raised the flags of AUA and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the University’s longtime supporter, on the summit of Ararat.

Both Jebejian and Ghazaryan are repatriates. Born in Aleppo, Syria, Jebejian moved to Armenia with his family in 2012 determined to live and work in his homeland. Besides his professional standing in project management and academic background in architecture, Jebejian is an avid proponent of healthy lifestyle. In his free time, he is out in running, hiking and mountain climbing. 

“Climbing mountains attracts me because it’s a hobby that emphasizes the journey over the result. Unlike other people who think that it’s only about reaching the summit, for me the journey matters more than the destination,” shared Jebejian. “For me, Ararat was no exception, adding to it the extra weight of being an Armenian, and the symbolic value that this mountain has for us, this trip resulted in quadruple feelings of accomplishment when summiting the frozen snowy peak on July 26, after a rocky three-day climb.” 

Ghazaryan, relocated to Armenia from the U.S. in 2017. Growing up in San Francisco, he was very much involved in the Armenian community and Ararat was part of his daily dialogue as he read stories about his ancestors, wrote and sang about Mount Ararat in the Armenian school. 

“In San Francisco Ararat was a faraway symbol of our history. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined touching the mountain, let alone setting foot on the summit. On August 21, 2019, Ararat became more than a symbol of our history for me, it became a symbol of hope and resilience,” he reflected on the realization of his childhood dream of climbing Ararat. 

Ghazaryan was part of a group that brought together 47 Armenians from 12 countries. “I was proud to stand on Ararat holding the flag of AUA – an institution whose mission is shaping the next chapter of Armenia’s history. AUA is molding the next generation of Armenians who will reach the top everywhere and with the right values and skills they will ensure a brighter future for our country,” he added.

To welcome Jebejian and Ghazaryan back, AUA organized a warm reception where they could share their unforgettable journey with the AUA community. Inspired by their story, several AUA staff members expressed interest in climbing Ararat next year. Jebejian encouraged them, “What seems hard or impossible, is actually doable, ONLY IF you want it to such an extent that makes you prepare well and try hard. The only thing that a climber needs is a strong will! Once the will is there, all else is just a minor detail.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.