Though it seems to be hard to believe due to my appearance, I have been involved in the Armenian community my entire life. I attended Krouzian Zekarian Vasbouragan Armenian School in San Francisco from kindergarten through eighth grade, served on the altar of St. John Armenian Apostolic Church, and constantly participated in the many community events of the broader Bay Area.
Since learning about Urartu during Armenian history class in 5th grade, I have been fascinated by the history of the Ancient Near East. That initial interest has become my chosen avenue of research, leading to my master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago.
During my studies, I was always interested in the works of Armenian academics. One of my goals as an academic was to bring Armenian perspectives on Middle Eastern history to light since Armenian scholarship is often ignored or dismissed. I will never forget the time I was explaining that goal to someone, who could not seem to grasp that there were any Armenian historians in existence after Movses Khorenatsi.
Having visited Armenia twice in the past two years (once with the Luys Foundation), I had the opportunity to meet several local Armenian students and scholars. Their enthusiasm and intelligence continue to blow me away. Without them, this would not be possible.
After receiving the e-mail asking if I would teach a course at Yerevan State University’s (YSU) Department of Oriental Studies as my internship, I was in a state of disbelief. I had to read the message over multiple times to make sure it was real. Being able to work and live in Armenia is already a great honor for me, but being able to teach here was an unbelievable opportunity. Of course, I said yes.
Upon arriving in Armenia, I quickly expanded the scope of my projects, taking on an additional placement teaching an English course at the newly opened Study for Success learning centre. I also began teaching an academic English writing course at YSU. Despite all my preparation for my volunteer placements, I could not help but feel uneasy as I took on so many teaching courses at once.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to give a guest lecture on Achaemenid history for the masters students of the World History department. The hall was full and the pressure was on. When it was all over, everyone applauded and thanked me for the lecture. I thanked them. It was such an honor for me to be teaching in Armenian, at a university in Armenia. It was like a dream.