Interview for

Azhar J.

7/23/2020

Interviewed By:

Chesley Chan

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 1:08:26
Summary

Azhar discusses leaving Iraq for the U.S. with her husband and children for safety. She explains what home, security, and community mean to her and describes the process of navigating different cultures alongside her children.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrator: Azhar J.

Date: 07/23/2020

Location: ZOOM; narrator (Dallas, TX), interviewer (Orlando, FL), translator (TX)


Summary: Azhar discusses leaving Iraq for the U.S. with her husband and children for safety. She explains what home, security, and community mean to her and describes the process of navigating different cultures alongside her children.

Topics: Childhood, immigration process, cultural adjustment, resilience, future, home and return, family, tradition, pandemic, tradition, home, community, resettlement process


Outline

Section 1: (00:59-07:09)

  • Childhood - From Iraq, born in 1976 in Bagdad. Asked if she has childhood memories, and said she does have memories from all periods of her life.

  • Immigration process - Instead of childhood memories, talks about a moment (from 2014) burned into her memory, about being in the airport leaving her country for US and the scary moment when they couldn’t find her name on the list for a long time, though they eventually did. A hard moment: her, her husband, and their children had been waiting for this trip for 7 years.

Section 2: (07:09- 22:12)

  • Cultural adjustment - Was incredibly excited when arriving at the airport. Started learning about neighborhoods, some safe and some unsafe, grew concerned. Importance of security for her family, especially when coming from a country with many conflicts. Has been safe since she came here, felt safe within community and with neighbors. Safety defined as ability to open up, adapt, meet people. Many different types of people in her neighborhood, and they learned from each other, felt belonging.

  • Immigration process- At first, helped by organization and then by kind people.

  • Cultural adjustment - Different ways of dressing, baby showers, weddings. Felt that other cultures are respected in America, makes the country special.

Section 3: (22:13-27:59)

  • Resilience, Future- Pursued America (waited 7 years) most importantly for safety. Receives help and support here and wishes to stay for this support. However, if her country is ever safe again, she wishes to return.

  • Home and return, Family - Compares homeland to the father, sometimes a contentious relationship but will not leave forever. A deep love here. In homeland, she has family, memories. It was the place where she grew up.

Section 4: (28:00-54:19)

  • Childhood, Resilience, Tradition - Mom as her role model, taught her to always be strong even in the face of great difficulty. Carries this with her to her children as well, supporting them, giving them hope, encouragement, and strength.

  • Family, Cultural adjustment, Tradition - Experiences of her children during resettlement. At first, missed friends from Iraq, but then as they went to school and made new friends, became happy again. Children are exposed to a lot of different cultures at school, and then they come home, and she listens to them and explains about Iraq too. Leaves it to her children to do the explicit comparing of cultures and to pick what they love. A challenge. Wants her children to continue to carry some cultural things from Iraq (clothing and dating areas).

  • Tradition, Family, Future - Another area of the culture is food. Her children especially like her shawarma. When her son gets married, he wants his wife to cook shawarma the way she did, the Iraqi way.

Section 5: (54:20-1:08:26)

  • Home, Community - Community here versus Iraq has similarities and differences, but she loves learning about other people. Home to her is where she and her family are safe. Her home in the US therefore means a lot.

  • Resettlement process - Most important thing to her was safety. Describes the warm, clean apartment with the refrigerator full of food as well as support from the organization for paperwork, applying to jobs, getting social security. Thought the organization did a great job with support.

  • Pandemic - When asked about pandemic, says she stays home, is emotionally tired like others.