Oral History Archive

The Oral History Project on Religion and Resettlement is a growing archive of oral history interviews with refugees, former refugees, and asylees in the United States whose religious and spiritual lives have been consequential to their journey, resettlement, and integration. We seek to gather and share oral histories from refugees, and are committed to collecting stories from, and involving, the full range of religious communities.

If you have any questions or if you identify as a refugee or asylee living in the US and would like to participate in an oral history interview with an undergraduate student, please fill out our contact form.

Click here for more information about this oral history project and how to cite these interviews.

 

Click here to explore learning materials that feature excerpts from this archive.

Abdul Nazari

Country of Origin: 
Afghanistan
Gender:
Male
Religion:
Muslim
US Resettlement Location:
Raleigh, NC
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
Violence, Family, Religion, Cultural Adjustment
Summary:
A refugee from Afghanistan, Abdul came to the United States after being discovered by the Taliban for working with Americans. He describes the resettlement process with the help of an agency, finding employment at a food truck, and the struggles he faced to access education and stability. He also recounts how faith helped him and his family through transition, and the amount of support he received from his community in the States.

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Displaying 1 to 12 of 160 interviews.

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Israa A.

Country of Origin: 
Iraq
Gender:
Female
Religion:
Muslim (Shia)
US Resettlement Location:
Dallas, TX
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
Religion, Identity, Discrimination
Summary:
Israa discusses the political instability and continuous conflict in Iraq, which led her to move to the United States in 2016 with her husband and daughters. She describes the importance of education in her and her children’s lives, how her relationship with Islam has changed over time, and her sense of safety in the U.S.

Gheath A.

Country of Origin: 
Syria
Gender:
Male
Religion:
Muslim
US Resettlement Location:
Dallas, TX
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
War, Childhood, Religion, Employment/Service, Education, Mental Health, Discrimination, Immigration Process, Cultural Adjustment, Language, Pandemic
Summary:
Born and raised in Damascus until the age of 16, Gheath discusses fleeing the Syrian War for Jordan and later the United States. He describes his difficult experiences in Jordan as a refugee, including working illegally to support his family and experiencing discrimination, and recalls aspects of his later adjustment to the U.S. with respect to language, faith, employment, and education.

Jhuma Acharya

Country of Origin: 
Bhutan
Gender:
Male
Religion:
Hindu
US Resettlement Location:
Columbus, OH
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
Not available.
Summary:
Summary coming soon!

Hawaye Adam

Country of Origin: 
North Sudan
Gender:
Female
Religion:
Muslim
US Resettlement Location:
Utica, NY
US Resettlement Decade:
2000s
Topics:
War, Family, Language, Cultural Adjustment, Religion
Summary:
Summary coming soon!

Hassina Adams

Country of Origin: 
Uganda
Gender:
Female
Religion:
Muslim
US Resettlement Location:
Syracuse, NY
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
Commentary On Age, Cultural Adjustment, Education, Family, Trauma, Immigration Process, Language, Religion
Summary:
A refugee from Uganda, Hassina and her three siblings first moved to Johannesburg, South Africa with their mother before resettling in Syracuse, NY, following their mother’s passing. Hassina recounts her experience grieving her mother, immigrating as an unaccompanied minor, and finding community in a foreign place.

Godwin Agaba

Country of Origin: 
Uganda
Gender:
Male
Religion:
Christian
US Resettlement Location:
Dayton, OH
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
Discrimination, Education, Employment/Service, Immigration Process, Politics, Race, Identity, Religion
Summary:
Mr. Agaba, a journalist originally from Uganda, describes living there and in Rwanda, before fleeing to Kenya to escape war and eventually finding refuge in the United States. He explains his interest in journalism as an effective tool for advocacy, his Anglican Christian identity, and his own experience of acculturation in the United States.

Amina Ahmad

Country of Origin: 
Syria
Gender:
Female
Religion:
Muslim, not religious
US Resettlement Location:
Undisclosed
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
Childhood, Employment/Service, Family, Religion, War, Cultural Adjustment, Conditions Back Home, Immigration Process, Identity, Generational Differences
Summary:
Ms. Ahmad describes her upbringing in Syria and the adjustments she had to make during her resettlement in both Malaysia after the outbreak of war in Aleppo in 2012 and the U.S. after she immigrated in 2017. She explains her fears of deportation and about procuring education for her children, her feelings of separation from her Syrian family, and her loneliness as the sole Arab family in her neighborhood – but also expresses hope for the future.

Ifrah Ahmed

Country of Origin: 
Kenya
Gender:
Female
Religion:
Muslim
US Resettlement Location:
Kansas City, MO
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
Race, Discrimination, Family, Language, Employment/Service, Cultural Adjustment, Education, Childhood, Pandemic, Immigration Process, Religion
Summary:
A Muslim immigrant from Kenya, Ifrah discusses her experiences living in refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda, and being separated from her family upon obtaining asylum. She describes relocating to Kansas, restarting her higher education, becoming an interpreter aiding other refugees in the area, and pursuing her passion for social justice.

Napoleon Akeyezu

Country of Origin: 
Rwanda
Gender:
Male
Religion:
Christian (Catholic)
US Resettlement Location:
Louisville, KY
US Resettlement Decade:
1990s
Topics:
Religion, War, Violence, Family, Immigration Process
Summary:
Originally from Rwanda, Napoleon discusses work, overcoming loss, and finding his way to Kentucky after fleeing the Rwandan genocide. He describes his experience moving to many countries before arriving in the U.S., losing his mother and siblings, the therapeutic impact of faith throughout his journey, and eventually working for the Kentucky Refugee Ministry, where he helps refugees of various faiths.

Khadija Al-Ahmad

Country of Origin: 
Syria
Gender:
Female
Religion:
Muslim
US Resettlement Location:
Hamden, CT
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
Cultural Adjustment, Language, Family, Disability, Education, Employment/Service, Food, Religion, Immigration Process
Summary:
Khadija Al-Ahmad speaks of her experience resettling in the U.S. after fleeing Syria through Turkey during the war, struggling to adjust to life in Connecticut with her new baby daughter and disabled son. She describes her difficulties finding a comfortable Muslim community and starting a catering business that faced hardship in the pandemic.

Aya Al-Mzayen

Country of Origin: 
Syria
Gender:
Female
Religion:
Muslim
US Resettlement Location:
Dallas, TX
US Resettlement Decade:
Undisclosed
Topics:
War, Violence, Family, Immigration Process, Religion, Cultural Adjustment, Identity, Pandemic
Summary:
A refugee from Syria, Aya discusses the outbreak of the civil war, the violence she and her family faced in the capital, losing family members, and the process of fleeing for the United States. She describes how she wrestled with her faith in light of her experiences, her sense of isolation, and her struggle to find community in Dallas, Texas.

Sahar Al-Nima

Country of Origin: 
Iraq
Gender:
Female
Religion:
Muslim
US Resettlement Location:
Denver, CO
US Resettlement Decade:
2010s
Topics:
War, Childhood, Family, Religion, Immigration Process, Employment/Service, Education, Language, Discrimination, Identity, Cultural Adjustment, Politics, Conditions Back Home
Summary:
Sahar discusses her childhood in Baghdad, Iraq, her move to Syria which she remembers with fondness, and her move to Kuwait which made her feel trapped in the wealthy, segregated, and conservative environemtn. She then describes coming to the US, going to college, and how she both finds identity as a Muslim Arab and gives back to her community through her work in social justice.