Susanna Mkrtchyan is a grandmother on a mission: She’s working to give Armenian students the same educational opportunities as students who live in Europe and the United States. And she’s using Wikipedia to do it.
Myrtchyan is a professor of Technical Sciences in the field of database and system research. Two years ago, she started using the English she learned as a student to translate English Wikipedia into Armenian and Russian. On Armenian Wikipedia, she focuses on Armenian history and education.
“I want that our young people to have high education because after the collapse of Soviet Union, our education collapsed, too, a little. That’s why I want to take wiki projects into universities and schools,” says Mkrtchyan.
Mkrtchyan was busy in her field of governance of science when she realized Wikipedia could create an environment for scientists inside Armenia and abroad to collaborate and resolve problems. She attended Wikimania 2011 in Haifa and talked with Wikimedia Foundation representatives about starting a chapter in Armenia.
Soon after, Mkrtchyan began organizing activities to meet with Armenian Wikipedia administrators and editors. Not only did she help found the Wikipedia Armenia chapter, she is its first president. “Now we have a more or less active group and we all help each other to make Armenian Wikipedia better.”
From the capital city Yerevan, Mkrtchyan incorporates editing Wikipedia in her life, finding time between her professional life and taking care of her family. “When I’m not stirring the soup, I’m working on Wikipedia.” Her twin grandsons used to bring her articles about basketball to edit on Wikipedia, so she told them, “create an account and edit yourself.” And grandma was the perfect teacher to show them the ropes of editing.
“Wikipedia, editing in Wikipedia helps you to better organize your speech,” says Mkrtchyan. She also believes it teaches tolerance for other people.
At a time in life when many people start to slow down, Mkrtchyan has moved into overdrive. She hopes more people will consider offering their talents to Armenian Wikipedia.
“If grandmothers, mothers edit in Wikipedia, they feel how important the work they do is and how important it is to make a heritage for future generations,” she said.
Profile by Donna Peterson, Communications Volunteer, Wikimedia Foundation
Interview by Victor Grigas, Visual Storyteller, Wikimedia Foundation