Music: Carrie Newcomer sings "You Can Do This Hard Thing."
|New Mainers Speak
Anne Hallward came to the US as a 17 year old from Canada. She is now a psychiatrist and Gracie Award-Winning host of Safe Space Radio, which got its start at WMPG. Anne kindly agreed to interview me as a way of saying goodbye to this beautiful community of listeners.
This show completes the 250 episode series of New Mainers Speak. Thank you for being part of this 7-year show, born and raised at and for WMPG and rebroadcast at WERU. This website will stick around so you can have access to the interviews from 2014 to 2021. Please enjoy the archived shows and drop me a line through the Contact page, anytime. And starting this spring, I can also be reached through www.ThumbprintAudio.com.
Music: Carrie Newcomer sings "You Can Do This Hard Thing."
These are images of some of the wonderful people who were on my show--often along with their friends or family who joined them. Most are candids that were not previously posted on this site, so they are "fresh" in that way. I've also included pictures of the books that they wrote and a few of the gifts I've been given along the way.
Elise Malongi arrived in Maine with her three young children from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo during the summer of 2012. A year and a half later she courageously agreed to be my very first guest on New Mainers Speak. Seven years later she is my last formal interview in this series.
A lot has happened in Elise's life in her first seven years in Maine. She has learned English, gotten her driver's license, raised three very active children, and has said "Yes!" to nearly every opportunity that has come her way: Most recently--downhill ski lessons so she could enjoy Maine with her kids.
When she said yes to learning to play squash at Portland Community Squash she had no idea that it would one day blossom into a full time job, in her field. Elise is the Finance and Facilities Director at PCS, which is a perfect job for someone with a bachelor's degree Economics and Business Administration.
Music: "Sur et Certain" (Sure and Certain) by Mama Lydia, a song that gives Elise hope.
Phuntsho came to the US in 2018 from Bhutan to study Global Media and Communications at the University of Bridgeport. Now with master's degree in hand, she lives in Newcastle, Maine where she volunteers her expertise with Lincoln County TV. As a digital media consultant, Phuntsho loves learning new media skills while helping to support Maine Challenge, (a political talk show, with YouTube link below).
Phuntsho continues to work toward her goal of being an embedded investigative reporter in a war zone so that she can tell the stories of the impacted people. She is grateful to come from a country that values and measures people's happiness and hopes to be able to make good use of her balanced upbringing in a chaotic world.
Bhutan is home to the black-necked crane, the national index of Gross National Happiness and is the only carbon negative country in the world.
Music: "My Home" by Sergi Meto
Meirgani is from the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. In 1986 the Sudanese family that employed him with daily labor, brought him to Hollywood, CA, USA where he was kept isolated for a decade before he learned some English and was able to leave, file for asylum, and work for Fox News in CA.
In 2007 Meirgani and his growing family moved to Maine. He is manages a local group home and has worked two jobs to support his family, both here and abroad, ever since he arrived.
Meirgani talks about the value of Portland Community Squash to his family. He appreciates the door-to-door support which enables his children to benefit from the academic and athletic lessons as well as the on-going mentorship offered to every family in the program that serves Portland students 6th-12th grades.
Music: Bob Marley sings "Three Little Birds"
Kerem Durdag was born to Turkish parents and raised in Pakistan. He came to the US for college. For more of his background story listen to New Mainers Speak 079 from Nov 1, 2015.
Presently, Kerem is the Chief Operating Officer of (Great Works Internet) GWI.net. He speaks with passion about digital inclusion and digital equity and explains why that is paramount to Maine's success as we head into our future together as a state.
At work and in community pursuits, Kerem uses his three languages and all his other magical talents to advocate for immigrants in Maine. The Indus Fund is a newly formed structure that offers a clever way to make small loans more accessible and affordable for immigrant entrepreneurs. Learn more at Amjambo Africa.
Kerem is preparing two upcoming performances. One is with Pecha Kucha in a few weeks and the other is potentially going to have a far wider reach as a musical about immigration, encouraged and commissioned by Portland Ovations. Click here to sample of some of Kerem's recent creative works.
Music: U2 "Ultra Violet" (Light My Way)
Nancy was born and raised in Kigali, Rwanda. She came to the US and Maine in 2018. With her background in finance and her excellent people skills, Nancy's become the new Community and Diversity Specialist for Bangor Savings Bank.
Nancy's insights about the secondary traumas the 1994 genocide inflicted on her life are illuminating. Talking about these painful realities has allowed her to realize she is not alone. The violence and loss was so profound it continues to play a role in all of their lives. That is why Nancy is an advocate of accessing all the mental health supports one can, while healing, growing, and moving through life.
Music: "Kamaliza" sung by Kamaliza. (Nancy's namesake)
Odette was raised in a rural village in Burkina Faso, West Africa with her extended family of 30 people. When she moved to the capitol city of Ouagadougou she adapted to a very different way of life with money and food bought in markets. In 2016 Odette and her children moved to the United States, arriving in Maine on Christmas Day, knowing no one.
Since then she has adapted to yet another very different way of life in Maine. The organization called In Her Presence was integral in helping Odette to feel she was seen and supported while quickly learning English. When she relocated to the Bath area she invested herself in a community building organization called Mid-Coast New Mainers Group where she now serves on their board. Through this organization she was invited to work in a community garden during this Covid/BLM/political summer. Gardening was transformational for her and gave her satisfaction beyond her expectations.
Odette currently studies nursing at University of Maine Augusta. Through nursing she has learned, more than ever, that we can be known by strangers through our shared humanity--we are all connected.
Song Referenced: Pink sings "What About Us?"
Closing song: Amy Koita-Faman sings "Djiguy."
Deborah was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Her childhood was disrupted by war and time spent in a prison camp and refugee camp before moving to Michigan-- then Maine in 2000. She was almost nine years old when she found herself learning English in Portland Public elementary schools. Deborah has spent her life since figuring out how to navigate the new culture, through grade school, Catholic high school, Clark University and University of San Francisco School of Law.
Now Deborah is a community lawyer with Maine Equal Justice and she intends to help others to navigate the complicated systems they find themselves working with in Maine. Maine Equal Justice is dedicated to increasing economic security, opportunity and equality for people in Maine.
Maine Equal Justice (1-866-626-7059 ) often partners with these other organizations for specific free services for people in Maine who are living in poverty:
ILAP, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project
MIRC, Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition
Pine Tree Legal Assistance
Music: "My Power" by Beyoncé featuring Tierra Whack, Naja, Yemi Alade and Moonchild Sanelly on The Lion King Album.
Suzan's family is originally from the Darfur region of Sudan. She was born in Khartoum and moved to Egypt at the age of 8 and to Maine at 14. She deeply understands how overwhelming huge moves are on the lives of refugee families.
Suzan is studying social work at USM while working in the field. Her career goal is to become a psychologist so that she can be a significant help to the Sudanese-American population in Maine.
Mental health issues are significant in families that have experienced a lot of loss, violence and grief as immigrants so often have. Suzan already organizes people and resources to create a place inside her community to let people know that is is OK to ask for help. Suzan's love for her cousin who died by suicide drives her even more toward her goal of helping others. If you need help Suzan wants you to tell someone:
The Maine Crisis Line: 1.888.568.1112
or call 2-1-1 for free, confidential referrals to any social service resources in the state.
When they were nearly five the Olise sisters came to Maine from Lagos, Nigeria. Now Adora (left) and Amede (right) are sophomores at Kennebunk High School. They are members of the debate team, civil rights team and mock trial. They love their extra curricular activities and wonder what it might be like if the worldly kinds of lessons they learn in those settings might be taught in the classroom. The twins share ideas they have for creating a less Euro-centric academic experience in their IB high school. Click here to see the book project on anti-racism that their club has been promoting.
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be part of a very small black minority in a predominantly white high school during the era of Black Lives Matter movement, Covid, and the 2020 election? They will tell you!
Music: "The Tide is High" by the Atomic Kittens
Please enjoy the archives. There are no new shows scheduled. 2021