Meet the Young Females Who Created the Armenian Sign Language App

By: Christine Soussa
The developing country of Armenia has many assets, including a strong focus on education, a global diaspora and a  population of motivated and eager to learn youth.  AIWA-SF is dedicated to inspiring, mentoring, supporting, and connecting Armenians worldwide. With a particular focus on leadership development and education, AIWA-SF helps bridge opportunities.
During the Summer of 2017, AIWA-SF learned that Armenia had participated in a Global Technovation Challenge. Technovation is an organization focused on providing “girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Young girls ages 10 to 18 learn to identify a problem in their community and create a mobile app solution to address the problem.” It is an extraordinary organization, this year, more than 11,000 girls from 103 countries took part in Technovation Challenge.
We were delighted when we heard that teams from Armenia not only participated in the program but made it to the finals and would be at Google offices in Mountain View, California in August 2017. During the week long program, the teams would present their applications to a panel of judges. The week culminated in an award ceremony where even the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai addressed the audience. It was magnificent! While the 2017 Technovation challenge has concluded, we at AIWA-SF believe it is important that the community continue to support and encourage STEM for Armenian’s youth, particularly females.
Five young girls from the Armenian village of Karbi were finalist and on the People’s Choice Award. Their mobile application named One Step Ahead – Armenian Sign Language was developed to help those with challenged hearing to be able to connect and communicate.
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Aghavni Hakobyan, 17 years old
– What do you want to be when they grow up? I want to become a programmer.
– What do you want to study in college? I will learn programming in college.
– What did you enjoy most about their Technovation Challenge experience? I enjoyed greatly visiting the biggest high-tech enterprises of the world. It is very interesting to be exposed to the activity.
-What was your biggest learning? I understood, that people are different, but that difference doesn’t disrupt them to become good friends and to overcome the difficulties together.
– What does being an Armenian mean to you? An Armenian female must know what is a freedom, she must be honest, modest.
– What are you most proud of? I am proud of my parents most of all.
– What is your biggest challenge? My biggest challenge is to help deaf and dump people to communicate with each other.
– What’s next? My next step is to become a good person and be useful for people.
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Sona Avetisyan, 16 years old
– What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a programmer when I grow up.
– What do you want to study in college? I want to enter the State University and become a Faculty Professor of Information Technology and Mathematics 
– What did you enjoy most about their Technovation Challenge experience? Technovation Challenge experience was my first step in IT. I enjoy it greatly. It was an unforgettable experience and very exciting. I am unable to express how meaningful and life changing the experience was.  When the Armenian flags were among all the international flags, I felt very proud to be Armenian and represent the opportunities that exist. .
– What is your biggest learning?  I learned that I have a lot to learn and much to overcome. I also learned that I can do it! 
– What does being an Armenian mean to you? I am very proud to be Armenian.
– What are you most proud of? I am proud of my motherland its people, history, its heroes, traditions, diaspora.
– What is your biggest challenge? My biggest challenge is to achieve my goals and I’ll do my best to make my dreams come true. 
– What’s next? My next step is to improve my knowledge in IT.
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Vardanush Nazaretyan, 16 years old.
-What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I grow up, I want to become very clever and change the world.
– What do you want to study in college?
I’m going to study ophthalmology in college.
-What did you enjoy most about your Technovation Challenge experience? I enjoyed the respect and dedication of the teams.
– What is your biggest learning?  This experience helped me realize how badly I want to become an ophthalmologist.
– What does being an Armenian female mean to you? It means to be proud and confident of yourself. 
– What are you most proud of? I am proud of my brother who is a soldier in the Armenian army.
– What is your biggest challenge? I understand the price of knowledge and I will learn better so I can achieve my dreams.
– What’s next? I want to change the world, and I shall do it.

21769534_1843070592386525_937885450_nSvetlana Davtyan, 16 years old.

– What do you want to be when you grow up? According to my mother’s advice it would be proper for me to learn languages. When I grew up I understood I want to become a well-known journalist.
-What do you want to study in college? During my studies I want to learn different subjects such as languages, history, speech, art and professional photography
-What did you enjoy most about you Technovation Challenge experience? During a one week adventure our team with our dear mentor spent time away from home. It was a great experience. We got to visit Google and we had great programs with many technology leaders. It was also very special to meet the Armenian community in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
– What is your biggest learning? I learned the importance of having goals and believing that you can reach them.
– What does being an Armenian female mean to you?  It means to be a dignified, to be generous, to be modest, to be strong, to be responsible and at last lovely woman and cheerful mother.
– What are you most proud of? We are proud with our mentor’s big job and with our parent’s support.
– What is your biggest challenge?  Big challenge was to find side of such a power teams and take a plays. First plays <<Education nomination>>. And << People choice>>.
-What’s next.? I want to create new apps with calm heart and with big ideas.
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Violeta Mkrtchyan, 17 years old.

-What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to become a programmer.
– What do you want to study in college? I study at university.
-What did you enjoy most about you Technovation Challenge experience?It was very special and meaningful to meet and communicate with the others from all over the world.
– What is your biggest learning? That we were deserving and capable to speak with very successful people. For example, we got to speak with the headmaster of Google face to face. We also spoke with the headmaster of Teen Vogue and with other very impressive leaders. It really special to get time with them.
– What does being an Armenian female mean to you? It means to carry an Armenian surname with honour, to be honest and modest.
– What are you most proud of? I am proud of my parents most of all.

– What’s next? I have always liked learning, after this experience I am motivated to learn more so that I can reach new heights. 
We are very proud of this team! While the 2017 Technovation challenge has concluded we are confident that One Step Ahead – Armenian Sign Language will continue to develop and that these young girls see first hand the opportunities around them and teh capabilities they have. AIWA-SF is committed to supporting and encouraging STEM education for Armenian’s youth, particularly females.  We hope Armenia will participate in the Technovation challenge next year in 2018 and for many years to come! We are grateful for donations of any size so we can continue and grow our commitment to bridging opportunities in technology, entrepreneurship, business and leadership for Armenia’s youth. To help us promote progress click here to contribute.
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AIWA-SF:

The Armenian International Women’s Association is a dynamic global 501(c)3 dedicated to empowerment, education and enrichment. Through many projects and initiatives,  AIWA is dedicated to enriching social, economic and personal advancement of Armenian women worldwide through educational and other community activities that promote gender equity, and emphasize our Armenian cultural heritage.   To learn more about AIWA, please visit http://www.aiwainternational.org. To get involved with the AIWA-SF affiliate, please visit http://www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or send an email to aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com. We are grateful for all donations. To help us promote progress, contributions can be mailed to: AIWA-SF 15559 Union Ave #227 Los Gatos CA 95032 or online by clicking here.

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