AIWA THRIVE shares the stories of individuals from around the world who are positively impacting our community as they lead with purpose.
Maria Mané Akopyan
Intern, Organization for World Peace
Development Assistant Intern, American University of Armenia
Today, we feature Maria Mané Akopyan, Intern, Organization for World Peace and Development Assistant Intern at American University of Armenia.
Maria Akopyan is an intern at the Organization for World Peace, producing weekly articles on important international issues. A graduate from San Jose State University she has a degree in Political Science with a minor in Women’s Studies. Maria is deeply passionate about women’s rights and the fight for equality globally. Specifically, she is passionate about helping break down the gender barriers. As she looks towards graduating soon, Maria will be joining the Developmental Team as a Developmental Assistant for the American University of Armenia Corporation.
You can find Maria’s other articles for the Organization for World Peace here:
Q: What is your life philosophy?
My life philosophy is a quote by Robert Allen, “There is no failure. Only feedback.” This philosophy helps me learn my lessons, shake off the issues into the past and move on.
Everything that happens in your life is either a blessing or a lesson. It’s important to put yourself out there and take the risks because if you don’t you won’t see the good and won’t learn from the bad.
Q: We called 2020 the year of the upheaval and awakening? What were your biggest upheavals and what did they teach you?
I started off 2020 by studying abroad in France. Although I was only there for 3 months before the pandemic had me sent home (barely making it home and having to stop in 4 different countries), I got the chance to see a different world and how much it has to offer. I felt like the experience of living abroad was ripped away from me too soon and I spent a lot of time feeling bitter about it. However, everything that happens, happens for a reason. I spent the remainder of 2020 at home with my family and I couldn’t be more grateful for this time since it was an opportunity to live together as a family. At the same time, because of COVID, my two internships were canceled. However, if they were never canceled, I wouldn’t have gone through with other experiences and learned that what I had planned for the future wasn’t for me. I had time on my hands, so I took an introductory law course since I have plans of going to law school in the future. I opened my own essay tutoring business and found different opportunities that made me the person I am today and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Q: What is your hope for the future?
I hope the future holds a different world for women. Over the past 100 years, women have gained more rights and equality than thousands of years before that. I hope to see a world where women are safe, powerful, and free to be themselves. The future holds so much potential for the treatment and overall lives of women. The progress our world has made already is monumental but we aren’t done yet.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian?
Humor, music, food … being Armenian is more than just my nationality. Although I haven’t lived in Armenia since I was 2 years old, my first language was Armenian. Whenever I hear Armenian or meet Armenians I get a special feeling of belonging. The sense of belonging has always been strong and powerful. Being Armenian is knowing that there is a huge network of Armenians all over the planet, almost everywhere and that I belong to that network makes me feel that we are all each other’s brothers and sisters (koorigs and apers). I can ask and receive support and I am happy to support others too. A couple of years ago I went to LA to visit some friends. On the way back I insisted we stop by Glendale so I can pick up some gata and other pastries for my family. The second I walked into the store I was so excited to speak Armenian and once I did, I was treated like family. This is such a unique feeling that makes my heart warm, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Q: How has the Armenian culture shaped you?
Armenian culture has given me such a unique outlook on my life. It has given me a unique sense of humor, a strong love for music and art, an appreciation for education, and respect for parents and elders. It has given me the right beginning to continue building myself and the person that I wanted to be. The kindness of Armenian hearts has shown me that the world is not all so bad and that there are people out there with this sense of belonging that will help you and show support for you despite not knowing you.