This May, we had the honor of participating in the Festival of Nations for the third consecutive year. The Festival of Nations, which has been held annually for over 80 years, inspires individuals “to discover more about our wonderful world and embrace its rich cultural diversity.” This rich diversity was celebrated with 35 cafes, over 40 international bazaars, over 100 music and dance performances, and the cultural booths.
This year’s theme was Rites and Rituals, and the Iraqi cultural booth chose to showcase wedding traditions from around Iraq. With the help of an amazing group of volunteers from the Iraqi community, our booth had many traditional elements of an Iraqi wedding. On display, there was a beautiful wedding dress, candles to bring passion and energy to the couple, a tray of seven white objects, such as sugar, symbolizing purity, a Qur’an so the couple may receive God’s blessing, and a mirror to bring light and brightness to the couple’s future. The scene was set with lights, lanterns, cushions, and curtains, as well Iraqi music. On Saturday, Iraqi volunteers and friends gathered to dance the traditional chobi for visitors.
We had a lot of fun stamping passports, writing visitors’ names in Arabic, and celebrating the traditions of Iraq. We would like to give a special thank you to all of the volunteers who made this possible by decorating the booth and interacting with the visitors to ensure everyone had a fun and educational experience. We hope to see everyone there next year!
In January of 2017, scholars, in association with the Immigration History Research Center and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society at the University of Minnesota, published a public syllabus on immigration. The syllabus is based on “Essential topics, readings, and multimedia that provide historical context to current debates over immigration reform, integration, and citizenship.”
There is no specific class following this syllabus, rather it is geared toward educators and any individual interested in learning more about immigration issues and history.
The syllabus follows the basic semester long structure and has weekly topics. The topics are in chronological order beginning in colonial America and covering through present day. Each week has a list of readings, primary sources, and multimedia links such as documentary films. The syllabus gives instructions on how to view all of these materials.
The University of Minnesota hopes that making this syllabus open to the public will help educators, activists, and concerned citizens learn more about the issues. They also hope that these resources will “assist policymakers who seek to avoid the mistakes of the past.”
Anyone interested in learning more about immigration and citizenship can view the syllabus here.
Written by IARP intern Nicole Rash
The Iraqi Voices’ film, Our Iraq, was screened at the University of Minnesota and hosted by he Immigration History Research Center. There were about 60 students and faculty present at the event.
The 20-minute documentary was followed by a discussion with audience members. The discussion was led by Assistant Professor Joseph Farag, an expert of Arabic Literature and Culture at the University of Minnesota. The discussion started with him describing his reactions and the process of developing this film. The producers of the film wanted to showcase the Iraq’s rich culture and history, not the Iraq portrayed in today’s media. Next, the students were able to ask questions. Students were curious about the size of the Iraqi community here in Minneapolis as well as the location of the biggest Iraqi community in the United States. In addition, people wanted further elaboration on the intentions of the filmmakers because the process was so passionate.
While I was walking around the room taking a few pictures, I was noticing that everyone seemed engaged and interested in this topic and the community. Students asked for more information about where to find the video to show their friends. This showed that people wanted to spread the word about Iraqi culture and wanted to be involved locally.
We ended the discussion with reactions. Students were surprised with the depth and richness of Iraq’s history and culture. While some students thought that some of this culture has been lost due to the wars, others believed that the Iraqi culture has been resilient and continues to thrive.
I was so happy to be a part of an event that highlighted the beauty of Iraqi culture, and to be able to share that understanding with my peers.It was clear to me that people enjoyed the film, especially the grocery store scene.
This blog post was written by IARP intern Allie Harris.
On an unseasonably warm winter day in Minneapolis, over 5000 people gathered to show love. The MN Caravan of Love was a march in solidarity with immigrants, refugees, and all those impacted by the new travel restrictions.
I am honored to have been a part of this event. We marched, we chanted, we wrote love letters, but most importantly we loved one another as neighbors, friends, and family. Along the two mile route, flowers, balloons, and letters were handed to local immigrants. The streets echoed with “No hate. No fear. Refugees are welcome here.” Halfway through the route, the group stopped to hear speeches by inspirational individuals from countries affected by the executive order. They told stories of tragedy and of hope. The march concluded on the University of Minnesota campus with a celebration including more speeches, singers, and dancers.
IARP has been grateful to partner with the Critical Needs Support Foundation (CNSF) on a Humanitarian Project for Peace to bring hygiene kits and sanitation products to IDP’s in Iraq. The recent kits were for the people of Mosul who have fled from IS (Daesh). The CNSF team are working tirelessly on the ground to identify and respond to those in need.
The most recent distribution consisted of:
68 hygiene kits in Al Haj Ali Village, south of Mosul, Ninewa Province
60 hygiene kits in Hamam Al Alil, south of Mosul near Al Qayyarah, Ninewa Province
270 Dignity Baskets in Alkhazer Camp, for displaced Iraqis feeling from Mosul (this distribution was funded in part by IARP and other humanitarian organizations).
The Dignity Baskets contained feminine hygiene products. The Hygiene Kits distributed in the villages each contained:
1x baby shampoo
1x lice shampoo
1x feminine hygiene kit
1x sponge pack for dish-washing
1x dish-washing liquid
1x plastic box
Here is a note from our partners at CNSF:
“Again, we thank you so much for your incredible support. You have helped us reduce risks to people’s health in a very simple but effective way. Disease can spread quickly, making an already difficult situation even more so. Most importantly, you are helping us protect their dignity.”
Thank you to EVERYONE for making the premiere of OUR IRAQ a success!
OUR IRAQ is the 14th film in the Iraqi Voices series. A team of 10 local Iraqis created this film with Nathan Fisher and IARP. OUR IRAQ begins with a sweeping overview of thousands of years of ethnic and religious coexistence in the cradle of civilization. The film then dismantles caricatures of Iraqis and Muslims in the United States — an Iraqi-American sculptor rebuilds what extremists have destroyed, Muslims pray at a Catholic church in Minneapolis, refugees own a St. Paul neighborhood grocery, and a public school administrator becomes the first Muslim woman to win an election in Minnesota.
This event was organized in collaboration with the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. It is part of their year-long series of public programming, “Global Minnesota: Immigrants Past and Present”, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Join us for the premiere of a documentary film written and directed by Twin-Cities based Iraqi refugees and Iraqi-Americans, followed by a discussion with Joseph Farag, Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture (UMN), and filmmakers. Reception to follow.
Iraqi Voices is a collaborative arts lab which gives Twin Cities-based Iraqis an artistic platform to share their stories. The new half-hour documentary in the Iraqi Voices series dismantles caricatures of Iraqis and Muslims in the United States ”” Muslims pray at a Catholic church in Minneapolis, refugees own a St. Paul neighborhood grocery, and a public school administrator becomes the first Muslim woman to win an election in Minnesota. The films are photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher and produced by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project.
This event is organized in collaboration with the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. It is part of their year-long series of public programming, “Global Minnesota: Immigrants Past and Present”¯, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Event is free, suggested donation $10
October 29th, at 2:00pm
F.K. Weyerhaeuser Auditorium
75 5th St, St Paul, MN 55102
Iraqi Voices is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
This event is co-sponsored by the The Advocates for Human Rights.
Excited as ever to be a part of this year’s Mizna Arab Film Festival!
Iraqi Shorts and Iraqi Voices at the Mizna Arab Film Festival on October 1 @ 1:00pm. The 2015 films will be screened as well as a sneak peak of our 2016 film. Q&A with filmmakers after screening. Come out and show your support for Iraqi filmmakers!
Learn more here.
It’s friendship via food- even better, via fried food. This past Sunday five American women and six Iraqi women came together in the kitchen to cook, eat, and form relationships. Our Iraqi friends taught us how to make delicious fried kebabs and laid out a full spread of vegetable toppings and Iraqi bread. And while the meal was delectable, the company was even better. Despite the language barrier, we discussed food, our differing marriage traditions, memories from Iraq, and our experiences raising a family, going to school, and managing a career. When it was time to go all of the participants exchanged phone numbers and a hope that the dinner would turn into a monthly event.
If you are interested in hosting or attending an Iraqi cooking class in the Twin Cities contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, check out the recipes we learned below!
Lamb and Ground Beef Fried Kebabs
1 kilo ground beef
1/2 kilo ground lamb
1 handful of each chopped:
onion (finely chopped)
Approximately 1- 1 1/2 cups flour
Two teaspoons of each:
salt to taste
Using your hands, thoroughly mix all ingredients. Dip hands in water to keep meat from sticking . Form into patties, logs or balls.
Add lots of oil to pan. Heat it up and when the oil bubbles, put the meat in.
Fry 1-2 minutes per side, or until each side gets brown or as well done as like.
Serve with vegetables and herbs such as: spring onions, sliced onions marinated in sumac, mint, cilantro, parsley, Iraqi pickles (see below!), green peppers, tomatoes!
Wrap in Iraqi bread and enjoy!
garlic cloves, crushed
Put your cucumbers into sterilized mason jars. In a pot, boil white vinegar, garlic cloves, salt, sugar, and other spices. Use about 1 cup vinegar, ¼ cup salt, and ¼ teaspoon sugar per 1 pound of cucumbers.
Feel free to experiment with different spice combinations/quantities, and different kinds of vegetables! You can also stuff your cucumbers with garlic, parsley, onion, and other spices.
Pour the boiled brine over the cucumbers until the jars are full. Seal the jars.
Once the pickles change color they will be ready to eat- this will take approximately one week.
Festival of Nations recap by IARP intern Jackie Myer.
As visitors entered the exhibit area, they to the festival were drawn to the beautiful blue replica of the Gate of Ishtar, the former eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. The gate was originally constructed in 575 BC by the order of King Nebuchadnezzar II, and was considered to be one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. The other side of the exhibit was decorated with a replica of shanasheel, an element of traditional Arab architecture. The projecting windows frequently used in houses and palaces to provide privacy are typically made from wood lattice, and the design attracted attention from visitors to the Festival who wanted to know more about the origins of the design. As visitors walked inside, they were able to see beautiful carpets and pillows, multiple tea sets, and various other decorations from local Iraqis. Children in particular were attracted to the large blue gate, and were often lined up outside the entrance waiting to get inside to receive a stamp in their passport and their name written in Arabic.
It was enjoyable to work at the exhibit with local Iraqis and listen to them tell stories and answer questions from children about Iraq, as well as laughing with them as I made (frequent) mistakes while attempting to speak Arabic. The Iraqis were eager to share the side of Iraq that is not usually portrayed on the news. When asked what they knew about Iraq, most children responded by saying, “there’s a war there, right?” but typically did not know anything else about the country. At the exhibit, we were able to teach them about Iraqi culture, typical foods in Iraq, and the Arabic language, as well as explaining the rich history of Iraq, which was often prompted by questions about the Gate of Ishtar. As people increasingly only hear about Iraq in the context of conflict, this opportunity to share the other side of Iraq with the community was invaluable and I hope that it opened their eyes to a richer, more complicated picture of Iraq than what they hear on the news.