Meet the AIWA-SF Board: Gaiane Khachatrian

GK_AIWA SF Board Photo

Meet AIWA-SF Board Member: Gaiane Khachatrian

Education: MA in Educational Administration (ELP, Educational Leadership Program)

{Q} What is your fondest memory of traveling to Armenia?

{A} I was born and raised in Armenia, and moved to the US in 1994 at the age of 23. Since the move, I travel home almost every year, to visit family, friends, and enjoy the homeland that I miss. The trip to Armenia in summer of 2012 was more than just another visit home. I was travelling with a mission – what can we do in Armenia towards the objective of empowering women and teenage girls in the country through creating initiatives at AIWA SF, a five-month-old organization that we had launched with a group of dedicated Armenian women in the Bay Area.

During this trip, I looked at Armenia through different lenses. I had many questions that I never questioned while living in the country… I continually made observations on everything and everyone around me… I met new people and made new connections with various organizations on the ground. I could not stop thinking and dreaming of what we may be able to achieve going forward.

The time came that I had to leave Armenia and come back to the US. Throughout the long flight I asked myself several questions: What is my vision of the future of the Armenian women in the homeland? Who is she – an Armenian woman of the 21st century?”, “What does she represent?”, “What is her role in the nation building process?”, “What is her role in preserving, and at the same time, reinventing the identification of what it means to be an Armenian?” While I did not have all the answers, as a starting point, I knew that we could certainly impact women’s lives in Armenia through creating educational and professional development opportunities for them to acquire the skills that they need to succeed in the future.

All of us at AIWA–SF are truly elated to witness how the organization continues to thrive. The impact that we have made so far is incredible, and we remain committed to our mission of empowering women and young girls to believe in their own unique leadership qualities, have the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential, and participate in, and contribute to all aspects of life.

The 2012 trip to Armenia was memorable. Planting the seeds and seeing tangible results a year later, was a rewarding experience.

{Q} What does being on the AIWA-SF board mean to you?

{A} As the Founding President of the affiliate, watching the organization rise new heights each year, and touch many lives, makes me feel content. We started an incredible journey when we launched AIWA–SF in 2012. We encountered and overcame many challenges, but through hard work and dedication we have created an environment that is now irresistible to leave! We celebrate every little victory, and push ourselves further to achieve the new goals that we set. They say “Women are like teabags. They don’t know their true strength until they are in hot water”.  All of us in our dynamic group feel like we are in hot water at times, nevertheless, our energy level doesn’t decline, and we remain determined to continue doing the important work that we have started in partnership with our remarkable community in the Bay Area.

I also cannot keep not highlighting the fact that I met wonderful people and made amazing new friendships as a result of my association with AIWA–SF. That is the power of AIWA!

{Q} What is your favorite Armenian tradition?

{A} One of the Armenian traditions that I admire, among many, is when something exciting happens to an individual (happy life occasion), the person puts his/her hand on the head of the person he/she cares about, saying “tarose kes”, meaning “I pass it to you”, wishing  the same good luck to that person.

{Q} If you could use technology to do one thing, what would it be?

{A} If I could use technology to change one thing, it would be creating a cleaner, healthier and safer environment at schools for our children.

{Q} What do you love most about where you grew up? 

{A} I grew up in Armenia, and what I loved about my country the most was the hospitality, warmth and the candidness of the people living in it. I also appreciated growing up in an environment where I had access to our rich cultural heritage.

{Q} Do you have any hobbies?

{A} Playing piano is what I always like to do when I have spare time.

{Q} What is your life philosophy?

{A} Family matters the most in life.

{Q} What languages do you speak?

{A} English, Armenian, and Russian.

{Q} What advice would you give your younger self?

{A} Always believe in yourself, and don’t let others discourage you and discredit your imagination.

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