Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

Keynote speaker tells her story of surviving the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Azerbaijan as a child

Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte is an author, lecturer, lawyer, and human rights advocate who arrived in the United States as a refugee in 1992. She delivered the keynote address during Gould's Martin Luther King Jr. Day programming this year on Wednesday, January 18, sharing her unimaginable and harrowing story of surviving the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Azerbaijan as a child.
Anna was both emotional and passionate in her address.
“My family suffered ethnic cleansing genocide four times in the last 100 years. The same kind of anger and hatred that existed in 1915, during the Armenian Genocide, exists today. It exists today because there was no justice. There is no peace without justice.”
Mrs. Astvatsaturian Turcotte was introduced by Director of Civic Engagement and World Languages Chair Adam Leff, who first met Anna when she spoke at Madame Leff's Citizenship Ceremony in 2017.
“Her fight against injustice, both here at home and abroad, embodies the spirit and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over the last decade, Anna has been the driving force behind dozens of humanitarian, cultural, environmental, and educational projects worldwide to support and to benefit the vulnerable population in Armenia and in the Artsakh Republic.”

Gould expresses immense gratitude to Mrs. Astvatsaturian Turcotte for shedding light on the rarely-shared experiences of refugees and helping students understand the realities of being a refugee.
Today she is the president of the Westbrook, Maine City Council, the first female, and refugee to hold that position, and runs the Anna Astvatsaturian Foundation, an organization that advances humanitarian initiatives in Armenia.
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