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Tigranna Zakaryan

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Tigranna Zakaryan is a first generation Armenian-American from Los Angeles, California who relocated to the United States shortly after the 1988 Nagorno-Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from The Evergreen State College in 2013. She has since traveled back to her home countries of Armenia and Russia to reconnect with her family and reflect upon her educational opportunities within her ethnic homeland.

Zakaryan describes her undergraduate education as a rich opportunity to reflect on her life as an immigrant minority growing up in the U.S. and has utilized this aspect of her identity to better examine the nature in which people view themselves in their given cultural and political context. The 1915 Armenian Genocide has served as the foundation for her desire to better understand humanity and critically examine the nature in which mass atrocities occur.

Zakaryan’s Armenian heritage is the backbone for her commitment to genocide advocacy and education. Her strong sense of cultural responsibility has fueled her travels in various areas of Turkey including visiting ancient Armenian ruins in Northeastern regions, Armenia, and neighboring Caucasus countries. Tigranna states that, contrary to the cultural narrative she was exposed to at a young age, her travels and studies of Turkey and Armenia are motivated by her desire to more constructively discover the interconnectivity between the two nations in order to support effective restorative efforts.

To compliment her analysis she embarked on further travels to Rwanda to study post-genocide restoration and peacebuilding. She aimed to learn what a nation with a more recent history of genocide is doing to build sustaining peace, support reconciliation efforts among civilian populations, and strategize for restorative justice.

Zakaryan describes her travels and educational pursuits as a domino effect which led her to conduct a yearlong case-analysis on Congolese refugees residing in Rwanda and the current war in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It was through this research topic that she discovered her passion for working with refugees and displaced people in the Great Lakes region.

Zakaryan believes in the importance of utilizing her educational and cross-cultural experiences as a medium for teaching her knowledge forward and raising awareness. She has presented her work abroad to Rwandan audiences, domestically to her broader college community and to international audiences at interdisciplinary academic conferences. She is currently mobilizing towards a research career in crisis-migration management. Tigranna Zakaryan will use her 2014 Carl Wilkens Fellowship Year to focus on community building between diaspora populations in Los Angeles in order to localize solidarity in the anti-genocide movement. In light of Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month and the upcoming 100 year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in April 2015, her goal is to organize a teach-in and dialogue session. This event will aim to educate local communities on the past century of global atrocities, raise awareness of ongoing conflicts, and inspire collective healing.