Aiwa Thrive

Laurance Menetian

Today, we feature Laurance Menetian, Tracing and Protection Expert, UNHCR–the UN Refugee Agency.

Location: Greece

Occupation: Tracing and Protection Expert, UNHCR–the UN Refugee Agency


After earning an MSc in Clinical Criminology from University of Leicester, England, I returned to my birth home of Greece as a licensed psychologist-psychotherapist in Cognitive Psychotherapy. Since then, I have worked with foundations and NGOs that serve and aid in refugee protection, humanitarian assistance, emergency response, and human rights.

Currently, I am employed as a Tracing and Protection Expert with the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, which is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution.

Q: What is your life philosophy?

“Service to others, is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” (Mohammad Ali)

Being able to help others, making that as a way of life, is a way to make a small difference in the world and change it a bit, just a bit. This is the heritage you leave behind.

Q: How has the Armenian culture shaped you?

During teen hood I fell in love with our writers that led me to get involved with Armenian poetry and theatre. Since then, art has become part of my everyday life. I incorporate my love for the arts in the way I raise my children, and as part of my own hobbies.

I am currently working as an Expert in Tracing and Protection as a mental health focal point in UNHCR, tracing and coordinating the accommodation of homeless unaccompanied minors that live in Greece. Simultaneously I work as a psychotherapist in private practice. I have been working in the refugee context as a psychologist, and since I also come from refugee ancestors, working with them gives me hope that they themselves will be able to move on and won’t get stuck in their past and in their own traumas. I see so many similarities between people regardless of their language and religion and ethnicity through my job, either being Afghans, or Syrians, Somalis or from the Balkans, the pain of leaving homeland behind and starting a new life in foreign lands, has the same pain, the same stress and the same agony.

Q: What is your hope for the future?

A cliché: a better world. A brighter future for the “weak” of this world. A stronger voice for those who struggle. A world with more women in power and in decision-making.

Q: We called 2020 the year of the upheaval and awakening? What were your biggest upheavals and what did they teach you? What was your awakening(s) and what did it teach you?

A year full of surprises, revealing our hidden strengths as individuals but also as members within a society. A world pandemic that taught us how important we are for each other, appreciating small moments and everyday routines. It also revealed the huge inequalities in between people and society and how, despite the differences we are still so dependent on each other to survive.

On the other hand, the war in Artsakh, people fighting against all odds, but also the resilience of those people, and the courage to fight for their own beliefs gives a whole new meaning and scope of life for the rest of us.

Keeping social distancing, yet coming together with collaboration, solidarity and reaching out to each other became a way to continue surviving through harsh times.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian/Armenians?

Belonging to this group of people with a rich history, a beautiful culture, extraordinary music. Belonging to the few that are called Armenians!


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