THRIVE is an AIWA-SF April project dedicated to highlighting Armenians who are doing amazing things in their personal and professional lives to better themselves and those around them. These individuals are inspiring, dynamic, innovative and interesting. Today, we feature David Akopyan.
David Akopyan, UN Resident Representative a.i in Syria was born in Kapan/south Armenia: his mother’s hometown. He holds an MBA from the American University of Armenia and a Ph.D. in laser physics and an MA in theoretical physics from Yerevan State University. He had years of passion and hobby for archaeology and natural discoveries in Armenia and was part of National Geographic Society expeditions. He traveled by foot to all corners in Armenia. He was Elected member of the first Yerevan City Council, democratically elected by 6,000 people. Last 25 years, he worked for UN/UNDP in 9 countries and in the HQ in New York on tow assignments. He has an extensive experience with nation/state and peace building and development that covers a diverse group of countries Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Somalia and now Syria. He lives in Armenia and San Francisco Bay are in between assignments.
Question: What is your life philosophy?
Look beyond the current boundaries and embrace the open world with all its opportunities and interesting challenges! Focus on what you can give to the nation, to the world, and not just what they need to give you! Serve and you will be served!
Question: What is your hope for the future?
I had a wonderful opportunity to explore the lives of many nations in the world – history, politics, culture, economy, self-organization. I enjoyed every dive into a new culture and made fond memories and connections in each country. I met so many good people belonging to all religions, with respect to each other and sharing many values. I spent the last decade in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria. These countries usually are seen as the hell on the earth but I witnessed how, despite so many challenges, life there is coming back, people love, laugh and determined to build the future again. I enjoyed the interaction with so many ordinary people with their passion for humanity, trust, love for nature, and families. This gives me the hope that we collectively will find the way forward.
Question: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian?
I have met Armenians maybe in 30 different countries. They are partly blended into their new reality, partly maintained ‘Armenianness’. There is always a wonderful first click with a stranger asking, “HAYES?” You start talking about many things and feel you are no more strangers to each other. This is the first line of comfort I was getting wherever in the world my destiny was taking me. There is also something special with Armenian sense of humor. The radio of Yerevan is a famous source of funny stories but also beyond.
Question: How has the Armenian culture influenced you?
Armenian culture is a combination of many things – it is Armenian landscape and Mountain Ararat, it is our music, it is this special click with any other Armenian, and a special sense of history. As I already mentioned it is a special sense of humor which I feel is a part of my DNA. The humor helped me find solutions under many impossible circumstances. All these together shaped myself the way I am. In addition, Armenian culture gives me a deep-rooted sense of identity with a nation with 3000 years of history, genocide as a catharsis of the centuries of suffering and rebirth with new energy, and care and empathy for neighbors and strangers.
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