Fanar Ayad – From Iraq to Kurdistan to Jordan

Recently my college hosted the second installment of the “Refugee Voices” series, featuring the ambitious and motivated Fanar Ayad. Born in Iraq, Fanar and her family were forced to flee her home in Baghdad due to their Christianity and the growing unrest due to Al-Qaeda presence in her town. Against all odds, Fanar has since attended and graduated from high school and university in Kurdistan and Jordan, respectively. I was humbled by her immense passion and drive to receive an education and astonished by her bravery as she told the W&J community about her life as a refugee.

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Sayed Adiban – From Afghanistan to Iran to Indonesia

As a college student studying International Relations, I have learned a great deal about various international conflicts and their history. However, I have not had the chance to speak with those who were actually affected by these conflicts and learn about the personal ramifications that these historical events have had. Through an organization called “NaTakallam” and with the help of the W&J Diversity & Leadership Office, I was able to bring Sayed Adiban to campus “virtually” through a new program called “Refugee Voices,” which seeks to increase intercultural awareness on campus. Sayed spoke with us about his experience as an Afghan refugee in Iran and Indonesia, about the uncertainty of refugee life, and highlighted the common misconception of Afghan refugees as being “dangerous people.” I was humbled by the bravery that Sayed exhibited through reliving these experiences and was grateful that he shared with us such personal stories, outlining the unimaginable hardship of the refugee experience. 

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Noor Ghanam – Family Story from Palestine, Kuwait, and Jordan to the United States

Bright rays from the orange dawn filter through the window where the three of us sit. My parents – my mom and dad – are sitting across from me on a couch, their hands intertwined. Our family is accustomed to moving forward with the rhythm of life; it’s rare that we take the time to deeply reflect on our individual histories. One thing that may surprise you about the migrant life is just how traumatic it can be. Although my parents were both ultimately able to provide my siblings and I with a better life, they paid a large price for it. They dealt with war, poverty, and a lack of opportunities in their home countries, and then when they immigrated, they put up with discrimination, insecurity, and loneliness. It can be difficult to open up those old wounds, and as a child of immigrants, I’m usually tender with the questions I ask about my parents’ experiences prior to when I was born. Therefore, when Clara approached me with this project, I was hesitant to participate. It was my parents – who I had been worried about – that encouraged me to share their words with others. Every opportunity for an immigrant to have a voice is one worth taking, no matter how small or large the audience may be. 

 “The area of Amman where my dad grew up. Most of his family still lives there to this day.” 
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From Egypt to the United States – Raneen Nassar

While working in Cape Cod during the summer of 2019, I met the beautiful and vivacious Raneen Nassar. When I asked her to partake in my Oral History Project this Spring, I had no idea that she was about to share with me an intense migration story and divulge her personal journey to grappling with her Arab heritage. Not only did Raneen live through the Arab Spring, manage complex family dynamics, and navigate the American foster care system, but she has also shown an unwavering determination to establish what her own identity is in the United States as a young Egyptian-American woman.

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From Morocco to Spain – Nara

The coast of Spain sits in the horizon, visible from a beach in Tangier, Morocco

This March of 2020, a majority of Americans are practicing social distancing by staying in our homes with Wifi and stocked pantries. Yet, we continuously complain as if social distancing is not actually a privilege. In times like these we should instead be grateful that we have a roof over our heads and a family to support us.

Back in June of 2019, I came into contact with Nara, an 18 year old Moroccan girl who currently resides in Sevilla, Spain. However, she had called Spain her home for little more than a year when I met her, and during our conversation she proceeded to tell me an amazing story about her choice to migrate to Europe.

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