Spotlight on Anush Dawidjan: World Traveler, Retired Diplomat, and OLLI Instructor

Anush Dawidjan has spent years traveling the globe, visiting over 193 countries, all seven continents, and every US National Park.As an OLLI Instructor, she shares her love for food, culture, and international customs, as well as her top travel tips with members.
Spotlight on Anush Dawidjan: World Traveler, Retired Diplomat, and OLLI Instructor

Few can claim the world traveler status that Anush Dawidjan can. A retired US diplomat, she has visited all 193 countries recognized by the United Nations. After working for the US government in various roles for 35 years, she retired in 2010 and enjoys the snowbird lifestyle, splitting her time between Miami and Springfield, Massachusetts.

Though there are no official records, she estimates through Facebook groups and other affiliations that fewer than 1,000 people in the world have also accomplished this feat. As a first-generation American, Anush is passionate about helping Americans gain a better understanding of international relations and communities.

“I feel like I’m this incredible American success story,” she shares, noting that her Ukrainian mother and Armenian father immigrated to Massachusetts in 1950. Her career stationed her across the globe in places like Niger, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Now, Anush feels a deep sense of global responsibility, saying, “I'm a woman of the world, and I want to see people become people of the world and not be afraid of the world.”

Helping adult learners discover the wonders of the world drives the subject matter of her classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Miami. OLLI offers programs to adult learners over 50 years old in many areas of personal and professional development. Anush started teaching classes in 2015 and has shared her knowledge on various subjects, with courses like “Working/Living Abroad for US Government,” “How to Pack Light,” and “Spiritual Places Around the World.”

“One nice thing at OLLI is that you have the opportunity not just to have a student-teacher relationship, but to have a friend relationship with your students,” Anush says. She likes to incorporate a social element into all her classes, often ending each term by hosting a brunch for students in her home.

One of her hallmark courses covers how to best preserve your travel memories. Her advice for meaningful collecting is to seek items that represent your passions in life and to put effort into displaying them in a way that reflects their value.

As for travel advice, she recommends taking time to research before you visit a new country. She also advises that taking notes or keeping a journal along the way will help you make the most of your experience. Seeing photos and hearing from students who have journeyed to the places on which she teaches classes has been an incredibly gratifying experience for her. Anush says that while she expected her classes to be fun and educational, she was not expecting the inspirational chord it has struck with students, motivating them to expand their passports.

When it comes to the benefits of an OLLI membership, Anush believes that the classes are just a first step in expanding your horizons. “If you're just a little bit interested in something as a starting point, [the classes are] the beginning of learning. It’s not the only learning you can do. Once you learn [about] the very beginning of your interest, then you learn how to pursue your interest.”

“I want my classes to be a learning experience for people, so I feel I’m successful when they tell me that they feel like they've been [to a country]” after completing her course. Sharing her global knowledge and skills with our OLLI members in an intimate, personal setting is the ultimate reward for a life well-traveled. This fall, you can take her class "Around the World with Anush.”

To learn more about membership benefits and how to join the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Miami, please visit our website.