Audio Recording of Interview
Haneen Alsaad, an Iraqi refugee of Palestinian descent, describes her and her family’s experiences in a refugee camp on the border between Iraq and Syria during the Iraq war, and their initially mixed feelings about immigrating to the U.S. She attributes her academic success to her family’s welcome in the United States, but speaks of how she wishes to strengthen her connection to their homeland in Palestine.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
Narrator: Haneen Alsaad
Location: Utica, NY
Content Warning: Death, bombings
Summary: Haneen Alsaad, an Iraqi refugee of Palestinian descent, describes her and her family’s experiences in a refugee camp on the border between Iraq and Syria during the Iraq war, and their initially mixed feelings about immigrating to the U.S. She attributes her academic success to her family’s welcome in the United States, but speaks of how she wishes to strengthen her connection to their homeland in Palestine.
Topics: Hope and Faith, Violence, Discrimination, War, Prejudice, Family, Education, Cultural Adjustment, Multiple Displacements, Childhood, Refugee, Immigration Process, Citizenship
Section One (0:00-12:05)
War - Palestinians lived in peace in Iraq before the war, despite their lack of rights. When the war began, they were targeted. Because of this, Haneen’s family left in 2007. Near a military base in Baghdad where she lived, she would see rockets and explosions.
Discrimination, Violence - Her family was denied Iraqi citizenship because they were Palestinian. A city where most of the Palestinians lived was bombed every other week.
Childhood - Will never forget the violence she witnessed as a seven or eight year old.
Refugee - Lived for three years in a refugee camp in a desert between Iraq and Syria. Lived in tents and experienced extreme temperatures. Elders and infants died due to the conditions.
Hope and Faith - Hope kept them alive. They thought they would stay in the camp for the rest of their lives.
Immigration Process, Family - Only a few families at a time could leave. Her sister was sent to Norway, the rest of her family to the US in 2010. They did not get to choose where to go.
Prejudice, Cultural Adjustment - Didn’t want to come to the US, had a bad image of it because of the war. Her family learned English at the refugee center. After making friends here, she realized Americans were human like her.
Citizenship - Haneen’s family obtained citizenship for the first time upon coming to the US. She calls it a life-changing event. Was able to finally visit her sister in Norway and reconnect with her roots in Palestine.
Section Two (12:05-19:13)
Hope and Faith - Prayed to God when they felt lonely in the US or wanted guidance.
Education - Her hardships and family’s sacrifices motivate her to be a good student. She went to school in the refugee camp but it was not official. When she came, she had just started high school. Now she is almost done with her Bachelors and attributes her progress to her immigration to the US.
Refugee - She says no one chooses to be a refugee and abandon their homeland, and that like everyone else, refugees want to be welcomed and feel safe in a new country.
Multiple Displacements - Due to war, her grandparents fled Palestine for Iraq, expecting to return, but they never did.