Welcome IARP’s New Board Chair, Salam Murtada

Written on June 7, 2018, by

IARP is delighted to welcome Salam Murtada as Chair of our Board of Directors, effective March 2018.

Salam Murtada has been a board member with IARP since 2011, and involved in various projects to promote peace and understanding between the Iraqi and American cultures. Born and raised in Amman, Jordan, he developed great respect for his neighboring Iraq and its immense contributions to our world in the areas of literature, Islamic studies, law, medicine, science, architecture, arts, music and history.  He is a professional civil and environmental engineer, currently working for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  His work involves conducting hydrologic/hydraulic modeling for watersheds, floodplains and geomorphic studies. Salam earned an M.S. in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering and an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, both from West Virginia University. He earned a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering and B.S. in Structural Engineering both from the University of Texas at Austin.  In addition to engineering, Salam is a concert pianist and composer who loves to perform at various community venues. His music-related projects involve finding and promoting Arabic classical music. A recent Iraqi Voices documentary included his performance of Hamuraby, composed by Beatrice Ohanessian, a prominent Iraqi pianist and composer.

Save the Date: IARP’s Annual Potluck, Saturday July 14 at The Commons Park

Written on June 6, 2018, by

Please join us on Saturday, July 14, at 4:30 pm, for IARPs annual community potluck! This year, we are delighted to hold our event at a new location, The Commons Park, in downtown Minneapolis. Our gathering will be held at the Carry On Homes Pavilion, a multi-functional pavilion hosting the stories of immigrants in Minnesota, where individuals come together to explore the concept of home. We look forward to coming together to share stories of home, listen to music, play games, and more. Please bring a food dish to share that relates to your background. We hope to see you there!

Event: Iraqi and American Potluck

When: Saturday, July 14, from 4:30 to 7:00 pm

Where: The Commons Park, 425 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55415

Meeting our summer intern: Aberdeen McEvers

Written on June 6, 2018, by

My name is Aberdeen McEvers. I am a senior at Macalester College and I am majoring in International Studies and Anthropology with a concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarianism. I am very excited to work with IARP this summer! I was attracted to IARP because I am planning on working in a non-profit after college and I wanted to get a better understanding of the everyday work that is involved in running a non-profit. I was attracted to IARP because I wanted to understand the structure of a smaller-scale NGO that focused on a very specific theme. I was also interested in seeing how the personalized, individual approach to reconciliation looked in practice, as I have only ever studied it in classes. I studied abroad in Belgrade, Serbia this past semester and I had the opportunity to work with a local NGO there who partially worked with various refugee groups in Serbia, including a number of Iraqi refugees. I am very interested in connecting the work I did in Serbia with IARP’s work with Iraqi communities in Minnesota and in Iraq itself.

Books for Mosul Campaign

Written on March 6, 2018, by

Collecting 15,000 books now through May 15, 2018

Once a major center of learning in the Middle East, the library at the University of Mosul was destroyed by ISIS when they occupied the city in June 2014. The militants methodically burned nearly all of the one million books, manuscripts, and historic maps saving only a few chemistry textbooks that they used to build crude explosives. The rest were considered blasphemous. One of the finest libraries in the Middle East was burned to the ground.

The Iraqi-American Reconciliation Project (IARP) is holding a book drive for Mosul to restore the library as a credible resource center at one of the Middle Easts most important universities. Community members can donate books or funds for shipping and handling costs.

IARP is coordinating the book drive in conjunction with Omar Mohammed, the historian and blogger behind Mosul Eye, who chronicled life under ISIS rule until he had to flee Iraq. Hes now trying to coordinate a cultural rebirth in Mosul, beginning with the library.

IARPs goal is to collect 15,000 books to help restock the shelves of the University of Mosul library and $15,000 to pay for shipping and handling costs.

IARP is collecting GOOD QUALITY university-level books in English and Arabic in the following subjects:

  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Humanities (history, art, music, literature, classics, etc.)
  • Medical school texts and references
  • References (encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.)


Books can be sent to:


2021 E. Hennepin Ave, Suite 200

Minneapolis, MN 55413.


Twin Cities drop off locations:

Global Studies Department, University of Minnesota

214 Social Sciences Building

267 19th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55455


IARP Office, Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10:00am-12:00pm

2021 E. Hennepin Ave, Suite 200

Minneapolis, MN 55413


Donations to the Books for Mosul shipping and handling costs can be made here.


For additional drop off times and more information, contact info@reconciliationproject.org or call 612-547-9971.





Remembering the Al-Mutanabbi Street bombing eleven years ago today

Written on March 5, 2018, by

Eleven years ago on this day, March 5, a car bomb targeted Baghdad’s historic open-air book market—Al-Mutanabbi Street. During this attack, 26 lives were lost and countless others were injured.

Al-Mutanabbi Street was named after one of the greatest poets of the Arabic language, the 10th century classical Iraqi poet Al-Mutanabbi. His legacy lends to the culture of Al-Mutanabbi Street. When the bomb exploded, lives were ended and precious books were destroyed. However, this street and all that it represents will not be erased from the Iraqi landscape. Writers and poets from all over the world responded to the tragedy. Their writings and poems are collected in an anthology called Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.

Below is a selected work from Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.

In the Valley of Love
Genny Lim

For Farid ud-Din Attar

Give me a thousand hearts
That I may sacrifice one for each moment
Open the door to each heart that
The Light of love may enter
Burn away the senses
For the truth of pleasures lies
In the truth of loss
Love itself is the flame
From which the self is wrought

Welcome our new Staff!

Written on February 25, 2018, by

Jessica Belt Saem Eldahr selected as next Executive Director

Jessy has been with IARP in her role as Deputy Director for the past two and a half years and is honored to have been selected as the next Executive Director. Jessy holds a BA from the University of Minnesota in Global Studies with a focus on the Middle East. In her new role, Jessy will continue to manage all programs as she takes on the full-time role of E.D. Before joining IARP in 2015, Jessy taught English and life-skills in the mountains of Lebanon where she spent the first fifteen years of her life. Jessy first became involved in IARP as a volunteer in 2012. Jessy and her husband Samer are the proud parents of a newborn son. They enjoy traveling and cooking ‘halabi’ food from Samer’s hometown of Aleppo.

Welcome Erin Hart as Director of Development and Communications

Erin joined IARP as a board member in September 2015 and most recently served as Interim Deputy Director. Erin worked in public affairs and consular positions with the State Department in Afghanistan, Oman, Iraq, and Washington, DC, before relocating to Minneapolis. She has an MA in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA from Grinnell College. As Development and Communications Director, Erin looks forward to contributing more to IARPs programs and long-term growth. She plays flute in a local music group and enjoys spending time with her two-year-old daughter Penelope and husband Ben.

A letter from Kathy McKay as she steps into new role of board member emeritus

Written on February 25, 2018, by

Dear Friends,

I want to be among the first to congratulate our new leadership at IARP. As of February 5th Jessica Belt Saem Eldahr has taken on the full responsibilities of the Executive Director. Over the past two and a half years, in her position of Deputy Director, Jessy has handled major responsibilities of the organization including overseeing the production of Birds Sing Differently Here at Dreamland and the Guthrie. In conjunction with the planning team, Jessy managed the Iftar Dinner and Minnehaha Potluck Picnic. She has managed interns and written grants. She is well equipped to lead IARP hand-in-hand with our Board of Directors.

In October 2017, Erin Hart assumed the title of Interim Deputy Director during the period Jessy was on family leave. She will continue in a part-time position at IARP as well as maintaining her role as a Board member. Erin brings management, communications and planning experience from her many Department of State positions.

With the new Executive Director and a strong Board of Directors, I will be stepping back to being volunteer without a title. I look forward to continued involvement with the Women’s Conversation Group and other opportunities that arise.

My leadership of IARP over the past ten years has been that of a convener, a convener of the talent and passion of others. From the early founding board members up through today’s Board of Directors there has been a steady hand and generous “holding” of the mission to foster connections between Iraqis and longtime Minnesotans. The Board now includes veterans, Father David Smith, PhD, and Salam Murtada; middle term individuals Mohammed Raef Al-Azzawi, Kathy Adam, and Erin Hart; and newer Board members (Ali) Muntadher Al-Jayashi and Ethan Wilensky-Lanford.

Over the years on a day to day basis the passion and tireless contributions of many young people, most particularly Luke Wilcox, Tricia Heuring, Nathan Fisher and Jessy Belt, have built IARP and kept it vibrant. With most of the hurdles small start-up non-profits encounter (limited funds, lack of credibility/identity) and some unique to our work (cross cultural, Islamophobia), these four individuals found ways to get things done. Without their vision, determination and perseverance IARP would not be the broad and deep community non-profit we now are.

IARP would be hollow, of course, if not for the generous Iraqi community members who risked believing we were sincere in our sometimes clumsy invitations to be friends. Patiently instructing us about cultural differences, so many went on to then share their most personal and sometimes painful stories. We have now an amalgam of Iraqis and non-Iraqis who stand together showing the world we are friends. We are the same, and we have differences. Together we stand against prejudice, hatred, and misunderstanding.

I expect to remain an active participant in IARP activities, just without the titles, and look forward to the year ahead.



Meet our spring intern: Gita!

Written on February 16, 2018, by

My name is Gita Misra, and I am a student at the University of Minnesota. I am in my junior year, and my major is global studies with a focus on human rights and justice in the Middle East. I am looking forward to interning at IARP! I chose this organization because its focus falls within the region of study I would like to work in some day. I am looking forward to deepening my understanding on how nonprofit organizations work since I have no experience with them so far, and I would like to work in this field in the future. I grew up in the Twin Cities area and decided to attend college here. Since high school, I knew I wanted to work in human rights, but it wasn’t until college that I chose my emphasis area as the Middle East. In my classes at the U, I learned more about the Middle East and discovered what a diverse region it was. During my sophomore year at the U, I studied abroad for a semester in Jordan (and visited the UAE for a short period of time). While abroad, I conducted a research project on sexual education among teenagers in Amman. Being there was one of the greatest experiences in my life, and I am hoping that once I graduate, I can return to the country.

Meet our new intern: Maddie Beal

Written on February 14, 2018, by

My name is Maddie Beal and I am a senior at the University of Minnesota. I am majoring in Global Studies with a focus in Human Rights and justice and Europe and minoring in History. I am very excited to be interning with IARP this semester! I got involved with IARP because of my internship class I am taking at the U. I wanted to intern with IARP because I am very interested in how nonprofits work and also very interested in learning more about the Middle East. Also, the projects that IARP is working on right now like Books for Mosul and the Iraqi Art Project are intriguing to me. I am originally from Colorado but moved to Minneapolis four years ago to play volleyball for the U. I just completed my four years of eligibility playing for the Gophers in 2017, now I am coaching a 14’s volleyball team for a club and love it! After I graduate I plan to go to the UK to play on a university team and get my masters or go to Europe to play professional volleyball.

Iraqi Voices: Mini Film Fest

Written on September 7, 2017, by

Iraqi Voices: Mini Film Fest is a series of short documentary films written and directed by Iraqi-Minnesotan refugees and immigrants, photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher. Iraqi Voices is a collaborative art program operated by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project that gives Iraqi immigrants and refugees in Minnesota an artistic platform to share their stories.

The screenings are at 7PM on September 15 & 16, but don’t miss these other opportunities to dig deeper into the issues and art:

September 15: Come early (6PM) for a thought-provoking discussion with Iraqi Voices filmmakers, moderated by Tricia Heuring, Public Functionary’s Co-Director/Curator. The film screening starts at 7PM, with a reception to follow!

September 16: Don’t miss the 3PM workshop & conversation about the craft of documentary filmmaking moderated by Film Director, Producer, and Writer E.G. Bailey of Tru Ruts . $7 Suggested Donation. RSVP Required: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3075951

FILM TICKETS | $7: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3075898
Seating is limited – get yours today!

*Part of the Brown CINEMA Caf series*