Hello iACT family! My name is Daniella (Dani) Hagopian, and I’m a first-generation student studying Public Affairs and African American Studies at UCLA. Being a Black, first-gen student at a PWI has given me the space to think critically about resource allocation & the dynamics between the oppressed and the oppressor. My time at UCLA has really shown me that in order to reach liberation, we must work collectively and provide resources whenever and wherever we can.
I chose iACT because I am an adamant believer in breaking down the all-too-common colonialist mindset of refugee activism. I was immediately drawn to iACT’s model of placing the community at the center of their work. Since coming to UCLA and doing my own research, I’ve learned about how damaging voluntourism can be and how these situations are often motivated by white savior complexes that really end up doing more harm than good.
As an iACT intern, I hope to contribute to these valuable, sustainable efforts on a global scale. I really value the fact that iACT’s work will have tangible positive effects on people’s lives, and am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of that.
“I firmly believe that to genuinely have a positive, long-lasting effect on the refugee communities we work with, we must move with intention and purpose and center their wants and needs every step of the way.”