University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Alum Anna Turcotte will speak on refugee experience Oct. 3, 4

On Thursday, Oct. 3, at 4:30 p.m. at the North Dakota Museum of Art, Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, an Armenian refugee from Baku, Azerbaijan, will speak about her life and book, Nowhere, a Story of Exile.  A reception will follow her talk.

Turcotte is being brought to Grand Forks in part thanks to a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. Others who made this project possible, include Global Friends Coalition, UND’s Honors Program, UND’s Women and Gender Studies, and UND’s Department of English.

After fleeing Baku, Azerbaijan, Anna and her family spent three difficult years in Armenia before coming to Wahpeton, North Dakota as refugees in 1992.  During this time, every one of the Soviet Union Republics began their fight for independence and the USSR eventually went through its colossal and permanent dissolution.

Turcotte graduated from Wahpeton High School and from the University of North Dakota in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in English and Philosophy and Religion.  She went on to earn her Juris Doctor at the University of Maine School of Law.  Anna began keeping a diary at the age of 10 while in Baku at the urging of her grandmother. The diary was kept for three years and was brought to the United States.  In 1992, soon after coming to North Dakota, Anna started writing her book at the age of 14, finishing it at the age of 16.  The book was originally written in broken English and is based on these diaries.  It was intended to be a record of the family’s history for future children and grandchildren.  In 2012, Anna published the book at the urging of the Armenian community in United States.

She was recently notified that she is a recipient of the Mkhitar Gosh Medal,the Armenian government's highest civilian honor that is awarded for notable state, public and political activities, as well as significant services in the areas of diplomacy, law and political science.

Turcotte will also speak at Mayville State University on Thursday morning, at the Red River Women’s Studies Conference on Friday, Oct. 4  (http://arts-sciences.und.edu/women-and-gender-studies/rrwsc/index.cfm), and at the School of Law’s Baker Courtroom at 11 a.m. Friday.