“The years that I lived in England, Belgium, Turkey, and Armenia were the most fascinating and the best years of my life," said Nanée Malek-Stanians. "Today I wouldn’t be the same person, if I didn’t go through that exact path. I wouldn’t have the same mindset and approach towards people, world and life, as I do now.”
Malek-Stanians was born and raised in France, in a family of Iranian-Armenians. She studied at the University of Sorbonne, with a focus on learning English and Spanish as foreign languages. Later she changed her specialization and earned Bachelor’s degree in European Studies. Later she got involved in a Master’s Program at the University of Bath in England between 2010 and 2011, where she studied international affairs and political science. She continued the second year of the Master’s Program in Paris.
The idea of working in various countries and exploring new cultures took Nanée to Armenia in 2012, where she completed an internship program at the EU Delegation to Armenia. Later she got admitted to the headquarters of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels, as a blue book trainee for the Eastern Partnership and Regional Cooperation Unit.
Malek-Stanians moved to Turkey in 2013 and worked at Hrant Dink Foundation, a well-known organization in Turkey, where she coordinated projects being implemented between Armenian and Turkish journalists. She once again moved to Armenia in 2014 and lived there for two years, where she first worked on projects being implemented with the UN Migration Agency (IOM), and later worked at the Cultural Action and Cooperation Service at the Embassy of France in Armenia.
“I have never felt like a foreigner in Armenia and Turkey," she said. "People were so warm and friendly with me and accepted me so easily, so that I never felt like I was in a foreign country. The countries I lived in have become an inseparable part of me. I was also able to easily adjust to life in Brussels, but no emotional connection was developed with the city.”
After long trips, student programmes, internships, and various jobs, she returned to France in 2016 and started working as a Refugee Status Determination Officer at the French Office of Protection for Refugees and Stateless Persons. “Every day we carry out interviews with various people and determine whether they can receive refugee status, or not. My previous experience of working and living in various countries helps me with this job. I think you can’t qualify being a refugee as a good or a bad thing. Nobody decides to be a refugee. Nobody leaves his or her country wilfully. It’s not a pleasure, but rather a difficult decision and situation for these people,” Malek-Stanians explained.
She works mainly with refugees coming from African countries. “These people go through huge difficulties, especially during their migratory journeys. I think the whole world should be cautious towards this sensitive issue, as it seems the refugee issue is something we will have to deal with for quite a long time. The world in general needs benevolence and care, and these people especially need more of it.”