, , ,

AUA Hosts Presentation of ‘Armenian Wonderwomen’

3 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — On April 6, the American University of Armenia (AUA) General Education Program hosted Gayane Aghabalyan (BAEC ’20) and Elmira Ayvazyan (BAB ’20) as part of the monthly Beyond the Campus: Alumni Stories event series. 

Gayane and Elmira presented their four-year-long endeavor researching and writing Armenian Wonderwomen, a children’s book that celebrates the remarkable lives of 38 Armenian women. It was during their studies at AUA that they discovered prominent Armenian women such as Diana Apcar and Zabel Yesayan, who have changed the course of Armenian history. Fueled by the constant questioning of “Who are the other women that have remained anonymous?” and inspired by Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a children’s book which shares the lives of extraordinary women, Gayane and Elmira embarked on writing a children’s book that explores the lives of historical and contemporary Armenian women. 

“Our mission was to find women who were excluded from our history and literature books and tell their stories. We also wanted to feature contemporary women who break stereotypes and pursue their dreams regardless of the obstacles they may face. The book not only teaches about women who have contributed greatly to our history, literature, science, and culture, but also each story addresses very relevant contemporary issues such as climate change, human rights, inclusion, and more. Armenian Wonderwomen is a celebration of Armenian women’s achievements but also an essential educational resource that fills some of the existing gaps in textbooks,” says Elmira. 

The authors of the book note that during their research, they collected a large amount of valuable information and decided to create an additional platform, aside from the book, to widely share those materials. With the generous support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the book was not only published in Eastern and Western Armenian but the website was created to share the collected archives. Gayane and Elmira also developed a teachers’ guide to facilitate the use of the book and website in teaching. They will soon start visiting the regions of Armenia to meet with teachers and students and talk about the book.

Looking back at their journey, Gayane and Elmira credit AUA for their research and writing skills which enabled them to produce a well-researched and high quality book. They also highlight the support of AUA faculty and staff. “If it wasn’t for the unconditional and constant support of Dr. Hourig Attarian and Dr. Melissa Bilal, we wouldn’t have been able to complete this project. They have been with us every step of the way, helping with fact-checking, writing, rewriting, editing, and everything in-between. The continuous support, feedback, and encouragement of AUA instructors Suzanne Daghlian and Mimi Zarookian also helped us. Heghine Aleksanyan, alumna of the Graduate Certificate in Translation program edited the Eastern Armenian version of the book. And of course, we are forever indebted to Chaghig Arzrouni-Chahinian, AUA’s Registrar, for the beautiful Western Armenian translation of our book,” Gayane elaborates. 

Beyond the Campus: Alumni Stories aims to foster sustained relationships and professional networks among AUA alumni, students, and faculty, as well as help current students explore opportunities and make post-graduation career or further education plans. The forum is free and open to the public.

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.