Music: Zeynep Bastik sings "Bir Daha."
Noor, her husband, and their young son went directly to Augusta, Maine when they left their home in Southern Iraq in 2016. It was a rough start but in the past three and a half years she has completed her high school degree at Adult Education, volunteered at four locations and is now working for the Capitol Area New Mainers Project while she gets ready to start college (KVCC) this fall to become a radiology tech. She is now 21, mother of two and helps a lot of children and immigrant families in Augusta to receive the services they need to make a good start here in Maine.
Music: Zeynep Bastik sings "Bir Daha."
Salma Al Adhami (Iraq) and Tracy Moore were paired through the Senior Companion Program which is a subset of Catholic Charities of Maine's American Friends Program. The two women have worked together for four years and have come to think of the other as family.
Salma retired from teaching first grade after thirty years. It was a job she loved. She lived in Basra, Hilah, and Baghdad, Iraq before moving to Westbrook, ME in 2014 to be with her surviving son.
Tracy is a social worker who volunteered through Catholic Charities of Maine and feels lucky to have meet Salma. Tracy has helped Salma find her way to a fiber arts center and the two women love to exchange recipes and so much more. As you can hear, they care very much for one another.
Salma is also involved in the New England Arab American Organization (NEAAO) where she spends time with peers and receives instruction in swimming, Zumba, and computer literacy.
Though she brought a translator to this interview, Salma has studied English for years and wants to become independent now that she has applied for US Citizenship.
This interview was translated by Nagham Al Ani.
Music: Samer Didi sings Hymn of Basra.
Music + Words
Kifah Abdulla (NMS 141 and 173) and Devon Colella co-create an emotional healing art form between poet and cellist. Devon describes a landscape and Kifah lets his "ears taste the cello" and responds with a reading of his poetry. Together they explore silence and sound while awakening a different kind of consciousness that invites healing from diverse experiences, such as life as a prisoner of war.
If you are interested in inviting them to your future event they can be reached through these outlets:
also through facebook and instagram.
Mohamed Kilani was born to Iraqi parents in Amman, Jordan where he lived until his family got resettled in the US. He arrived in Portland, Maine as a nine year old in 2009.
Mo adapted to his new world quickly. He watched Ellen on TV until he mastered the American accent. Everyday he uses his hard-won work ethic to succeed at everything he does. He is profoundly grateful to his family for their shared insight into how to appreciate humanity, work hard and love one another well, regardless of how hard that can be to do at times.
Presently, Mo is a freshman at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and when he earns his bachelor's degree he plans to stay in Maine to contribute to the community in substantial ways, understanding life from many different perspectives.
Music: "Dust it Off" by the DO
Jawad is a musician from Baghdad, Iraq. He makes and plays the oud. After moving to Maine in Feb 2016, he found his way to Bourgeois Music where he makes guitars. He brings a world of musical experience with him as performer, teacher and music philosopher.
As an undergraduate Jawad studied music at Baghdad University and then earned his masters degree in Music Philosophy.
In the past two years Jawad has performed at more than 25 house parties and has played on a number of stages in the area including USM, MECA, and Mayo Street Arts. His music business is called Golden Eye Oud. (Contact info: GoldenEyeOud@gmail.com). Like a free bird, Jawad wants his improvisational music to represent his freedom, an open mind, and the connection between all people, East and West.
Ahmed was born and raised in Iraq. He lived in Jordan, Syria, and was a college lecturer in Iraq and Libya before coming to the US in 2014 with his wife and four children. He has 17 years experience in the field of education with a Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning and a Ph.D. in Sociology (in process) from Al Fateh University in Tripoli, Libya.
He presently works as a Parent and Community Specialist through the Multilingual and Multicultural Center in the Portland Public Schools serving the Arabic speaking community.
Beyond bringing the community together and helping his fellow new arrivals as a cultural broker and translator, he teaches Arabic and is a published author in the Union of Iraqi Writers and Poets. He loves how poetry makes him free, and shares such thoughts in this interview.
Additional resources for New Mainers which Ahmed recommends:
New England Arab American Organization
Music: Fairouz sings "Baghdad"
Israa is a student and a poet. She and her family arrived in Maine in 2013. After attending Deering High School in Portland, she is now a Human Biology and Linguistics student at the University of Southern Maine.
Israa brings with her a love for Iraqi poetry and culture mixed together with a passion for justice. She invites women to express what is in their hearts by doing just that, herself, as a poet and performer of her spoken word pieces. (See her TEDxDirigo talk from 2017 here).
Israa recites her poem to Iraq personified called "Story of a Violin" and underscores the value of memorizing poetry which is shared among people in a culture or a movement. She feels that our words connect us with our beliefs and with each other.
Music: Shatha Hassoun sings "Ya Nabaat El Rihan" and Old Iraqi Song.
Kifah Abdulla is a world citizen whose journey began in Baghdad, Iraq. He is a poet, artist, writer, teacher and activist. After completing his Bachelor's Degree in biology at the University of Baghdad, Kifah entered into compulsory military service. During the Iraq-Iran War he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for more than eight years. During this interview he reads from his recent book of poetry called Dead Still Dream, about his experience as a POW and explains how this difficult experience changed him. He will also soon be releasing his related memoir called Mountains Without Peaks. Kifah lived in Jordan and Holland before moving to Portland, ME in August 2011.
A true creative, Kifah always has many projects in motion. He is a father of two teenage sons, teaches Arabic at The Language Exchange, performs as storyteller and does poetry readings accompanied by an oud or cello, teaches Arabic calligraphy, and creates art out of everything he sees and touches including food, words, and a wide array of visual art supplies.
To view his visual art website: www.kifahabdulla.com.
To view his website called Arabic Language in Maine (created with Brooke DeLorme) visit: www.arabiclanguage.me
Poetry read during this interview:
"Dream 1" and "I Met A Hero (John A. Alle)"
Music: David Darling "Slow Down"
Ali Al Mshakheel came to the US from Iraq in 2014. He is now a Parent Community Specialist for the Portland Public Schools, is on the board of the World Affairs Council of Maine and continues to do some journalism and while raising a family in Portland, ME.
He discusses his experience at the recent Camden Conference (Feb. 17-19, 2017) which is an annual event created to foster discourse on world issues. This year the conference was called "Refugees and Global Migration: Humanity's Crisis." Ali was a Special Guest and addressed the audience as an immigrant, himself, personalizing the policies and learning on the issue over the course of the weekend. During this show Ali shares the comments he presented at the conference. He looks at how the experience impacted him, talking about how this crisis calls us to be responsible to the other humans with whom we share this planet. He believes we should help those in need and to make peace so that people might resume their lives in their homes.
Also, his sixth grade son, Ahmed, joins us in the studio and recites a poem by Nizar Kabbani which he recently memorized.
FMI on Ali's book project which needs an editor and publisher click here.
FMI on The Iraqi Society of Maine's Children's book drive click here.
Music: "Can't Stop The Feeling" from the Trolls movie.
Aqeel Mohaildeen is a graphic designer who has begun to produce and print a newspaper to welcome and inform Arabic speaking immigrants who are new to Maine. The free newspaper is called The Hanging Gardens of Babylon and is available at the Portland Public Library as well as area Arabic markets and restaurants. Click here for a link to free on-line version of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon newspaper.
Aqeel arrived in the US in 2010 and settled in Maine in 2013. He loves the "pure people" and the kindness he's found in Maine as well as Portland's red brick architecture. Aqeel plans to stay in Maine and participate fully in his community and in his new country. He also discusses voting and explains that he won't disappoint the founding fathers of this country and he will vote in Tuesday's presidential election.
Music: Iraqi folk song, "It Is Because I Have Nobody" by Ahmad Shamma
Sunday, January 10, 2021 Kerem Durdag of GWI and The Indus Fund shares his passions for making sure immigrants have equal access to the tools they need to build a life here.