Music: From Palaver Strings' album Simple Gifts, "Yorkshire Lass."
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Maya French, violinist from Palaver Strings, joined me in the studio with Alain Igiraneza, a 16 year old Burundian singer and one of the narrators for their upcoming Welcome Home tour. Together they explained about the group's mission to create a new interactive model for audiences which incorporates social justice issues with creative musical expression. Welcome Home is a tour through Maine that invites people to reflect on their own concepts of what "home" means to them, personally, while experiencing music and readings from three cultural groups in our state: Burundian, Franco-American and Iraqi.
Music: From Palaver Strings' album Simple Gifts, "Yorkshire Lass."
Humza left his home in Multan, Pakistan and arrived in Standish, Maine in 2005, as an 8 year old boy. He attended Gorham High School and then went on to study at the University of Southern Maine. While there, Humza was an active member of the Muslim Student Association. The club successfully advocated for more awareness of, and support for, the growing numbers of Muslims attending USM. In 2018 he received his Bachelor's degree in Finance and Political Science.
Presently, Humza Khan is the Talent and Diversity Specialist for Bangor Savings Bank. The bank is preparing for the future workforce of Maine. They prioritize workplace belonging by creating organizational capacity to make every demographic feel welcome there. Bangor Savings Bank additionally participates in programs to welcome veterans, immigrants, and low income youth into the banking industry.
Music: "Tu Kareemi Mun Kamina" is a Rumi poem put to song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Hawreh Haddadi is a Kurdish-Iranian-American. He and his family arrived in Maine in 1997 and were raised speaking their native Kurdish language at home while attending public schools in Portland and Windham. During high school Hawreh, his mother and siblings had an opportunity to travel back to Iran to visit their extended family. Their experience exceeded expectations as they were surrounded by relatives and felt the full impact of belonging to a huge and loving family. Yet, while visiting Iran, they were also detained and interrogated, a terrifying experience for all.
Hawreh uses his skill as a political scientist (Master's Degree in Political Science and Policy from Suffolk University) to describe his coming of age experience. The story is authentic and accessible giving readers a glimpse of the wonderful and horrible summer in Iran in his new book called Finding Kurdistan: A Kurdish-Iranian-American's Journey Home.
Music: Kurdish National Anthem
New Mainers Speak is broadcast from Portland, ME on Sundays at noon, but on Mondays WERU, (in East Orland, ME), does a re-broadcast of the show at 4:30 PM. That means there is a listening audience up there that is only hearing about people in Southern Maine.
At Matt Murphy's suggestion (General Manager at WERU), I took a road trip up to the Bangor area. Through kind connections I learned about Angela Okafor and she introduced me to her two friends Marwa Hassanien and Tania Jean-Jacques. The three of them are all running for public office in the area and Marwa warmly hosted us for a recording party at her house.
These women are quite amazing. They support one another to take on challenges they might not have imagined alone. And, they were fun to get to know. I hope you will enjoy this set of three interviews (below) with each of them.
And, special thanks to WERU for the studio tour, interview and enthusiastic on-going support.
Angela has a life force that is as big as the sun. She is a lawyer originally from Enugwu-Ukwu, Nigeria and moved to the Bangor with her husband in 2007, for his work. She passed the bar in NY, as they had planned to move there after their time in Bangor. But, they fell in love with the Maine and decided to stay and raise their three school-aged children.
Adaptability is the key to Angela's success. She is bright and jumps right in to take action and make the world a better place however she can. Beyond her federal law practice (Okafor Law), Angela operates Tropical Tastes (an international food market), Gela's Hair Braiding and Crafts and she served on the Maine Multi Cultural Center board until recently. She also heard the need and started an affinity group called Bangor Area White Parents of Black Kids.
Last year (2018) Angela was recognized as a "Trailblazer" by Empower the Immigrant Woman, a prestigious award. She is a confident and competent advocate.
Right now she is running for City Council in Bangor and who knows what is next!
Music: "Thankful" sung by Flavour
*This interview was conducted over the phone on Sept 23, 2019 after original interview was technically compromised.
Tania was born in Les Cayes, Haiti, raised in Montreal, Canada and came to the US to complete her nursing degree in college. She is a natural nurturer and empathetic supporter of others. Tania worked in many capacities as a RN in New Jersey before she and her family moved to Hampden, Maine in 2017 for her husband's work.
Starting Maine Haitian Network and serving on the board of the APCMS in Bangor, Tania gained additional professional skills. Presently, she is running for school board in RSU 22 where she will advocate for rigor, STEM education, equal access, and will offer her global perspective in the process.
Music: Lauren Daigle sings "You Say"
Though born in Stillwater, OK, USA, Marwa was raised by immigrant parents from Egypt in a bi-cultural and bi-lingual home and later married an Egyptian man. Together, they moved to Maine in 2005. They have continued to live, work and send their four children to public schools in the Bangor area for the past 15 years.
Having parents who valued education, Marwa grew up to appreciate the same. Her father taught at Oklahoma State University and she teaches at the local community college and serves on the boards of the MultiCultural Center and APCMS.
Holding a Master's degree in Education-- specializing in assessment, curriculum and instruction, and having a mission to support rigorous educational opportunities for all, Marwa is presently running for Bangor Public School Board.
Music: Amr Diab sings "Yetalemo"
Mohamed was born in Djibouti and came of age as the country was experiencing great optimism around their independence in 1977. He enjoyed an excellent public education and played soccer with his brothers in many towns around the country, being from a military family.
As a young man with some sales and management experience Mohamed moved to Qatar where he worked for 14 years before moving to Maine in 2012.
Here in Maine he uses his skills from both of his former countries in an organizational capacity with Maine People's Alliance. He can't underscore enough the importance of civic engagement for new Mainers' success.
Mohamed lives and works in Lewiston and notes other important resources there such as Maine Community Integration.
Music: "Adunyada" by Mohamed Saleebaan
This is a special 30 minute sampler highlighting three segments from shows over the past year. This recording was submitted to the Maine Association of Broadcasters and won 2nd place in the Public Affairs category on Saturday, Sept 14, 2019.
My special thanks goes out to WMPG leadership for their unwavering support of this show and to my wonderful, trusting, beautiful and courageous guests for their time and willingness to share themselves on the air.
Three Shows Telescoped into One:
African Dundada (South Sudan).
NMS 204 aired on 4/21/19 (0:00 to 10:00)
Mariella Uwimana (Rwanda).
NMS 201 aired on 3/10/19 (10:00 to 22:55)
Mateo Hodo (Albania).
NMS 187 aired on 7/29/2018 (22:55 to 30:00)
Golaleh was born and raised in Iran where she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts (metal and jewelry) from the University of Art in Tehran. Three and a half years ago she came to Maine to attend Maine College of Art (MECA) for a Master's Degree in Fine Arts which she completed in May of 2018. Golaleh's portfolio and upcoming events are posted on her website: www.golalehyazdani.com.
Golaleh talks about how everyday women resist the oppression of conservative laws in Iran and how their acts inspire her and possibly weave their way into her art from time to time.
Music: Mohsen Namjoo sings "Zolf"
Sunday, November 3rd Palaver Strings will join me in the studio at noon to discuss their upcoming Welcome Home tour. They are fantastic! I hope you can join us, too.