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."
Ken came to Portland from Burundi in late December 2016 as a sophomore in high school. He learned English very quickly and took rigorous courses at Deering High School where he distinguished himself academically.
With the help of his school's program called Make It Happen! Ken was able to find his way through the maze of college applications and will attend Connecticut College in the fall.
Beyond his school work, his job as a cashier at a local grocery store, and volunteering at the homeless shelter, Ken also was accepted into the selective year-long program at The Telling Room. The Young Writers and Leaders Program fosters written and spoken expression. Through this experience Ken learned to speak publicly, share his creative works openly and he became published, all before graduating from high school.
Music: Canco Hamisi sings "Ewe Burundi"
Monique came to the United States to study and arrived in Maine in 2016. This spring she will be graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from USM, the only woman in her class.
Growing up in the Great Lakes Region of Africa (DRC, Burundi and Rwanda), Monique always loved writing and yet she also felt the need to be assured that she would be financially independent, something she sees as essential for women's empowerment. She has found a way to pursue both and shares two of her poems on this program: "Asking For A Friend" and "Fifteen."
For more of her poetry and thoughts visit her blog.
Music: Andrea Day sings "Rise Up"
The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center is located on the third, (and soon fourth), floor at 24 Preble Street in Portland, ME. Alain Nahimana (NMS 24, 60 and 92), above, is the Interim Executive Director of the center and Damas Rugaba (NMS 25, 68), below, is a founder and the Chair of GPIWC's board.
The IWC is taking a pro-active and collaborative stance toward immigration in Maine. Rather than simply responding to policies they are playing a more ambitious, strategic and positive role in the community.
Top priorities for the center include:
Language in a digital language lab
Shared Professional Working Environment
Empowering entrepreneurs with networks
Music: "Famille" by Lokua Kanza
Bertrand Mizero, is the Director of Aspire for Humanity Initiatives, a non-profit organization based in Portland, Maine. This organization was designed to transform the lives of marginalized and vulnerable immigrants through community development initiatives.
Bertrand has a Master's Degree in Global Development studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and 5 years of experience in the development field. Bertrand is a comer from Burundi and he arrived in the United States two years ago with his young family.
This interview was conducted by Steff Hyden Niwemutoni, a student intern from Casco Bay High school.
Music: "Bama bagomba kwiyambika Izera" by Lion Story
Alain Nahimana, originally from Burundi, is now the Coordinator for Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition (MIRC). He leads a team of 45 organizations who collaborate to advocate on behalf of Maine's immigrant community.
During the interview he discusses MIRC's partnership with the World Affairs Council of Maine and the publication they generated in June 2015, indicating next steps forward. He also shares information about the proposed Office for New Americans, integration, general assistance, and sheds light on the path that the groups comprising MIRC have forged, together.
Music: Miriam Makeba sings "Pata Pata"
Bruce left Burundi six years ago and settled, along with several other members of his family, in Portland, Maine in 2012.
Since surviving a stroke a year ago he has felt an imperative call to make a substantial contribution to his community and the earth. He started the business Compact Green Services to help acculturate new immigrants and to develop new sustainable technologies.
Music: "Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave
Claudette worked in marketing for international corporations in her home country of Burundi before moving her family to Portland, ME in 2011. She now works for Opportunity Alliance and is the Vice President of the Burundi Community Association in the Portland area.
In this show Claudette highlights the growing need for continuing to develop access to effective and efficient English language learning for immigrants in Maine, which is one of the seven key findings from this year's six month community conversation sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Maine and MIRC (Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition). FMI: click here for findings from Celebrating Immigration: Community Dialogue on Economic Opportunity and Integration.
Music: Nzohaguraka Ndirimbe
Alain Nahimana came to Maine from Burundi less than 5 years ago. He started out as an asylum seeker on general assistance and quickly got work, moving off the general assistance roles and came to know himself as a Mainer. He is now the Coordinator for the Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition and helped to organize the rally in downtown Portland last week to protest the proposed state DHHS budget cuts to General Assistance. FMI: www.wearemaine.org.
Music: Quilapayun playing "El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido." (Translated: The united community will never be defeated.)
Franck is a young man who grew up in the capitol city of Bujumbura, Burundi in a family of five children. His parents treated the boys and girls with equality, which was somewhat unusual, but shaped his worldview. He moved to Portland, ME one year ago, by himself, to a very different world from the one he had known. He got his driver's license, learned to speak English and overcame his shyness. Franck plans to attend university and hopes to one day use information/computer science skills to produce movies.
Music: "Kimbiya" by Kidumu
Sunday, April 5 at noon artist and storyteller Caroline Hadilaksono, originally from Indonesia, will be joining me at the station. I hope you can join us, too.