Current Student Raffi Joe Wartanian Launches Letters for Peace Project
BY Zoe Contros Kearl, September 17, 2018
Current writing student Raffi Joe Wartanian launched Letters for Peace this summer in Armenia and Azerbaijan with the support of Eurasia Partnership Foundation and Davis Projects for Peace. Letters for Peace provides workshops at the intersection of creative writing and peace building to foster dialogue in conflict zones.
Letters for Peace (LFP) is a pilot project that harnesses writing as a tool for peaceful social transformation in regions impacted by conflict. In the summer of 2018, LFP began its efforts by leading a two-week creative writing workshop in Yerevan with high school and university students who prepared letters articulating the importance of and possibilities for a peaceful future between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
"Starting Letters for Peace has offered insights into the space where creative writing and conflict resolution coalesce. In a region mired by generations of inherited conflict, the students' capacity to articulate through writing possibilities for peaceful social transformation required admirable openness and earnestness. In Armenia's post-revolution moment, the students on both sides of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border upheld the torch of peaceful words in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela," Raffi said.
Raffi Joe Wartanian is a multiplatform storyteller passionate about social justice, creativity, and innovative institutions. His art and activism have been supported by the Fulbright Program, Gulbenkian Foundation, Humanity in Action, and the Luys Foundation. His writing and film work have appeared in venues including Lincoln Center, The Baltimore Sun, and The Huffington Post. As a musician, he has performed alongside Grammy Award-winning flutist Mary Youngblood, created music and lyrics for award-winning vocalist Eileen Khatchadourian, and performed internationally as an oud player and singer-songwriter. Raffi is currently pursuing an MFA at Columbia University and co-teaches a creative writing workshop at Rikers Island Jail Complex.