Voices of the Plains: Experiences as a BIPOC scientist & voices of refugee communities (2 parts)
A monthly series hosted by the Center for Great Plains Studies Graduate Fellows. This installment will highlight the ongoing work of groups involved in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, pet rescue, and education.
Part 1: Voices in Great Plains Conservation and International Ecosystems (45 minutes)
In this part one, Jazmin Castillo will discuss the application of Great Plains habitat and natural resources conservation to international ecosystems, from the perspective of an early career BIPOC scientist. Castillo is a B.S. and M.S. graduate of the School of Natural Resources at UNL. She did her master's research on hyena population dynamics in Botswana through a multidisciplinary National Science Foundation fellowship focused on the ecological resilience of agroecosystems. She has recently translated her skills to a position working on the national trails system with the United States Forest Service based out of Washington, D.C. and is planning to continue her career with the Forest Service.
Part 2: Voices of Heartland Immigrant and Refugee Communities (45 minutes)
Given the rich history of the Great Plains as a site of significant immigrant and refugee resettlement, Part 2 is a discussion centering the intersections of immigrant experience, place-based education, and advocacy work across local communities. The guest speaker is Maysaa Khalaf, who is majoring in business administration with a concentration in international business and economy at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She was born in Sinjar, Nineveh, Iraq, and is part of the Yazidi community/religion. Upon moving to the U.S., Khalaf restarted high school and graduated in 3 years. She is a first generation student and earned a Buffett scholarship. Khalaf is currently interning with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development on the international business team. She is the president of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO) at UNO. Her current project is promoting communities within the state of Nebraska.
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[00:00:05.030]Welcome to the Voices of the Plains.
[00:00:07.690]My name is Margaret Jacobs,
[00:00:09.180]I'm the director of the Center for Great Plains Studies.
[00:00:12.670]And I'd like to begin by acknowledging
[00:00:14.700]that the University of Nebraska is a land grant institution
[00:00:18.400]with campuses and programs
[00:00:19.990]on the past, present, and future homelands of the Pawnee,
[00:00:23.097]Ponca, Otoe-Missouria, Omaha, Dakota, Lakota,
[00:00:27.400]Kaw, Cheyenne, and Arapaho peoples,
[00:00:30.310]as well as those of the relocated Ho-Chunk,
[00:00:32.870]Sac and Fox, and Iowa peoples.
[00:00:36.400]The land we currently call Nebraska
[00:00:38.320]has always been and will continue to be
[00:00:40.650]an indigenous homeland.
[00:00:42.910]Please take a moment to consider the legacies
[00:00:45.420]of more than 150 years of displacement,
[00:00:48.310]violence, settlement, and survival that bring us here today.
[00:00:54.940]This acknowledgement and the centering of indigenous peoples
[00:00:57.500]is a start as we move forward together.
[00:01:02.840]Voices of the Plains is a new online series
[00:01:05.430]to amplify the voices of distinctive communities
[00:01:08.140]on the Great Plains
[00:01:09.450]whose perspectives have historically been marginalized,
[00:01:12.870]underrepresented, or misunderstood.
[00:01:15.700]This new series is brought to you
[00:01:17.340]by our dynamic group of graduate fellows,
[00:01:20.540]graduate students who come from fields
[00:01:22.510]as diverse as civil engineering,
[00:01:24.680]biological sciences, English,
[00:01:26.950]teaching, learning, and teacher education
[00:01:29.080]and natural resources.
[00:01:31.160]They have combined their unique interests and expertise
[00:01:34.590]to create a compelling series of accessible conversations
[00:01:37.830]focused on the Great Plains region.
[00:01:41.140]Our host this evening are two of our graduate fellows,
[00:01:44.520]Katharine Hogan and Cara Morgenson.
[00:01:47.350]I just wanna tell you a little bit about them,
[00:01:49.330]and then I'm gonna of turn it over to them
[00:01:51.130]to introduce our speakers and our topics for the evening.
[00:01:55.320]Katharine Hogan is a PhD candidate
[00:01:57.420]in the School of Natural Resources at UNL,
[00:02:00.780]under the supervision
[00:02:02.090]of Dr. Craig Allen and Dr. David Wedin,
[00:02:05.730]studying Prairie Restoration,
[00:02:07.400]Floral Resource Provisioning,
[00:02:09.150]and Community Functional Response to Drought.
[00:02:12.300]She's part of the same
[00:02:13.730]National Science Foundation Fellowship Program
[00:02:16.120]on Agroecosystem Resilience as the speaker,
[00:02:20.460]completing her dissertation with the support
[00:02:22.600]of The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska,
[00:02:25.050]the Sustainable Agricultural Research
[00:02:27.070]and Education Graduate Student Grant Program,
[00:02:29.780]the Haines Branch Prairie Corridor,
[00:02:32.260]and the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.
[00:02:36.750]Our other host this evening
[00:02:38.350]is our graduate fellow, Cara Morgenson.
[00:02:42.530]Cara is a PhD candidate
[00:02:44.080]in the Department of Teaching, Learning,
[00:02:45.770]and Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska Lincoln,
[00:02:49.330]under the mentorship of Dr. Edmond or Ted Hammond.
[00:02:54.070]Her dissertation research examines the continuing bonds
[00:02:57.160]between teacher researcher and former students,
[00:03:01.390]how they've deepened as a result of critical feminist
[00:03:04.010]and ethnographic inquiry,
[00:03:06.040]forming in a unique mapping
[00:03:07.710]of respective coming of age journeys,
[00:03:10.320]experiences as women in educational systems,
[00:03:13.200]and the theorizing of possible futures for themselves
[00:03:15.860]and changes to social reality for others like themselves.
[00:03:19.740]Cara is currently a teacher
[00:03:21.170]of English For Language Learners at Belmont,
[00:03:23.780]the largest elementary school
[00:03:25.220]in the Lincoln Public Schools district.
[00:03:28.720]So thank you very much for attending tonight,
[00:03:31.360]and I'm gonna turn it over to Cara and Katharine.
[00:03:34.890]Thank you Margaret for that introduction.
[00:03:36.930]And thanks everyone for being here.
[00:03:39.200]As Margaret said, my name's Katharine Hogan,
[00:03:41.360]and I'm pleased to introduce our speaker, Jazmin Castillo.
[00:03:44.790]She is a scientist and natural resource manager
[00:03:47.370]who's here to talk about her experiences
[00:03:49.660]as a person of color in the fields of conservation
[00:03:52.890]and natural resources management in the Great Plains.
[00:03:56.620]Jazmin is originally from South Sioux City, Nebraska.
[00:03:59.670]She graduated from UNL in 2020,
[00:04:01.670]with her masters in natural resources,
[00:04:03.910]and she studied hyena populations
[00:04:06.300]at the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana,
[00:04:09.100]which I think is endlessly cool.
[00:04:11.479]As Margaret already mentioned,
[00:04:13.160]she and I met through the National Science Foundation
[00:04:15.970]or one of the National Science Foundation
[00:04:17.320]Research Fellowships here at UNL,
[00:04:19.340]and we stayed in touch
[00:04:20.230]as she moved on to new and greater things.
[00:04:23.340]She's currently working with the National Trail Team
[00:04:25.910]and the United States Forest Service
[00:04:27.620]based out of Washington D.C.
[00:04:29.530]And in her time off, she is a power lifter, a soccer fan,
[00:04:33.725]and has an adorable giant white, fluffy dog called Tata
[00:04:37.220]who I love.
[00:04:39.544]So with that, I will handed over to Jazmin.
[00:04:42.360]There'll be roughly 30 minutes,
[00:04:44.640]give or take, for Jazmin to share her thoughts,
[00:04:46.970]and then afterwards there'll be some time for questions
[00:04:49.410]if you wanna either raise your hand virtually
[00:04:51.410]and I'll call on you,
[00:04:52.910]or you can type them in the chat box
[00:04:54.560]and I will read them. So
[00:04:56.480]with that, go for it, Jazmin.
[00:04:58.990]Right, yeah, thank you.
[00:05:00.500]Let me see.
[00:05:02.420]Let me know if you can't see my screen.
[00:05:06.220]But, okay, cool.
[00:05:08.530]So, yeah, I'm just gonna kind of talk about
[00:05:12.280]what my experience has kind of been like
[00:05:14.291]of being Latina in conservation.
[00:05:18.998]Both of my parents immigrated to the United States
[00:05:22.580]when they were in like their early twenties from Mexico.
[00:05:25.820]And so I'm a first generation American
[00:05:30.110]and a first generation college student,
[00:05:33.310]and so it was definitely an interesting experience
[00:05:37.990]of kind of being in a way like the black sheep in my family
[00:05:41.830]and wanting to do something in conservation.
[00:05:46.160]And I know like if you were to ask my family
[00:05:49.870]why I would pick conservation,
[00:05:53.270]they would tell you like,
[00:05:54.120]I'm the one that they go to for any animal questions.
[00:05:58.180]I was always like the kid that memorized all the dog species
[00:06:01.960]when I was young,
[00:06:04.223]every time we would go to Mexico to visit my family,
[00:06:06.860]I was the one collecting all the strays
[00:06:08.960]and trying to convince my parents to bring 'em home with me,
[00:06:13.000]and so it was kind of a no brainer,
[00:06:16.820]after graduating high school,
[00:06:18.220]that I wanted to do something in wildlife.
[00:06:24.930]Let me see if this works.
[00:06:25.763]Okay, so there are just kind of some pictures
[00:06:28.290]when I was an undergraduate.
[00:06:30.600]I did my bachelor's in fisheries and wildlife,
[00:06:34.010]and it was just a really cool experience of,
[00:06:40.330]but I think what really set it apart
[00:06:42.110]was the fact that I had a really great mentor.
[00:06:46.440]And so John Caroll, he's like the director
[00:06:51.490]of the School of Natural Resources at UNL.
[00:06:54.670]I met him my first semester as a freshman,
[00:06:58.060]and it was also his first semester coming at UNL,
[00:07:01.702]and we really connected in the way that,
[00:07:05.690]he's also first generation American,
[00:07:07.729]his parents are Irish.
[00:07:10.120]And so it was really nice to have somebody
[00:07:15.900]that I could talk to about
[00:07:17.730]what's it a like having parents that don't really understand
[00:07:21.920]what you do as a career.
[00:07:24.670]And I think what was really difficult for me is that,
[00:07:29.200]a lot of my Spanish that I learned was from my mom and dad.
[00:07:33.700]And then I took some Spanish classes through school,
[00:07:37.600]but a lot of the stuff that I was learning
[00:07:41.070]in my undergraduate and my graduate career,
[00:07:43.170]like, I didn't know how to translate that in Spanish.
[00:07:45.650]So it's, the more I became,
[00:07:50.890]I learned about conservation,
[00:07:52.670]the less I was able to communicate that with my parents.
[00:07:55.900]And I think that was something
[00:07:58.100]that I wasn't prepared to experience even to this day,
[00:08:05.290]like, if you were to ask my parents,
[00:08:08.120]like, what it is I do,
[00:08:09.690]they're just kind of like something with hyena's,
[00:08:13.350]I don't really know.
[00:08:15.470]And then I'll like randomly get text messages from my mom
[00:08:18.950]throughout the day where people are talking to her
[00:08:22.450]about like what it is I do,
[00:08:23.610]and she like text me and be like,
[00:08:24.920]what is it exactly that you do?
[00:08:26.110]And I'm like, natural resources, wildlife.
[00:08:30.620]And she's like, okay.
[00:08:32.010]And then she'll always be like,
[00:08:32.870]sorry, it's just that I always forget.
[00:08:35.330]And so it's been interesting.
[00:08:38.840]And, like, my dad owns a business,
[00:08:40.997]and so he's always wanted me to go into business.
[00:08:43.830]So he's always trying to like,
[00:08:47.190]get me to do a business with him and things like that.
[00:08:51.810]So I think it was really difficult in my undergraduate
[00:08:56.330]of not really connecting with a lot of people
[00:08:59.670]that I went to school with
[00:09:00.720]because I didn't grow up going outdoors.
[00:09:05.030]I didn't get to,
[00:09:07.340]a lot of the stuff that I learned about the outdoors
[00:09:10.130]was through like Animal Planet
[00:09:13.030]and different things like that,
[00:09:14.240]so, yeah, it was just interesting.
[00:09:18.120]And so when I was going through my undergraduate,
[00:09:20.340]a lot of the stuff that I did
[00:09:22.610]was I kind of separated school
[00:09:25.160]from my personal life of, like,
[00:09:27.170]people who's in my major with,
[00:09:28.860]I didn't really talk to,
[00:09:30.580]unless I went to Botswana with them.
[00:09:32.500]And then on my personal side,
[00:09:34.710]I would go play soccer.
[00:09:37.070]And so most of my time was spent on like city campus at UNL.
[00:09:40.660]And I was like playing soccer
[00:09:42.310]with people from different countries,
[00:09:44.920]or I was mentoring students that came from Southern Africa
[00:09:50.470]just to kind of get that connection between,
[00:09:52.440]okay, I'm going to Southern Africa to research,
[00:09:55.270]but I'm not interacting a lot with the people.
[00:09:59.330]And so having that opportunity through UNL
[00:10:02.810]of being able to kind of learn about their experiences,
[00:10:07.850]connect through my culture.
[00:10:11.310]I felt gave me a more well-rounded picture
[00:10:13.700]of the realities of conservation
[00:10:18.140]and not just necessarily focusing on spotted hyenas.
[00:10:22.470]And so something that, I guess, nobody really knows,
[00:10:26.350]except for like my family, obviously,
[00:10:29.040]is that, like, my trips were really cool,
[00:10:33.930]but I would honestly cry every time I would leave
[00:10:39.520]for the summer, for my trips.
[00:10:41.250]And it was really difficult because
[00:10:45.020]I guess it was like,
[00:10:46.413]here was something that I really wanted to do,
[00:10:48.100]and it was my passion,
[00:10:50.570]sorry, my dog wants to play play right now
[00:10:52.630]so she's, like, bothering me.
[00:10:55.790]Here is something that it was like my career,
[00:10:58.330]but the cultural side of, like,
[00:11:04.030]for Latino culture,
[00:11:05.210]it's very much like family oriented.
[00:11:06.930]And so nobody in my family
[00:11:10.630]has ever really traveled far distances,
[00:11:14.630]especially for school,
[00:11:15.790]like, it was really unheard of.
[00:11:17.730]And so it was really tough,
[00:11:21.230]especially my first,
[00:11:22.900]the first time I went to Botswana,
[00:11:24.320]because the first year I went,
[00:11:26.920]I had no contact with my parents for a whole month.
[00:11:30.330]And so it was like,
[00:11:32.680]I had no idea what was going on back home,
[00:11:36.100]all of the other students had never left Nebraska,
[00:11:42.030]so they were all from Nebraska,
[00:11:43.250]so I didn't have somebody to be like,
[00:11:49.260]like, everybody that I was talking to was like,
[00:11:50.960]oh, I never wanna go back,
[00:11:52.470]I wanna stay here.
[00:11:53.303]And for me, I was like,
[00:11:54.330]oh, I'm going to my tent crying
[00:11:55.750]because I miss my mom and dad.
[00:11:58.695]And so that was,
[00:12:01.230]that was something that took a lot of reflection of like,
[00:12:06.310]it was a lot of like,
[00:12:07.370]did I pick the right path?
[00:12:09.940]Because a lot of jobs on conservation
[00:12:13.920]are very much isolating
[00:12:17.070]and you're out in the middle of nowhere,
[00:12:18.740]and that is completely different from what I grew up with,
[00:12:23.660]and it's very,
[00:12:25.820]it's growing up, I was always with family,
[00:12:29.450]and in my household,
[00:12:31.760]we always had relatives over.
[00:12:34.590]I always had,
[00:12:36.610]I think there was one point when I was growing up,
[00:12:38.240]there was like 20 people living in my house
[00:12:41.450]because we just always had somebody visiting,
[00:12:44.070]we were always helping a relative out
[00:12:46.014]when they were coming from Mexico
[00:12:48.170]and kind of getting situated in the U.S.
[00:12:50.330]And so it was definitely hard.
[00:12:53.730]Like, how do you the balance between
[00:12:57.720]what I thought I wanted growing up
[00:13:02.540]and who I was as a person.
[00:13:06.816]And so I think,
[00:13:08.300]that was something that was really difficult,
[00:13:12.220]but I think what really helped me
[00:13:13.900]was having a mentor like John
[00:13:19.350]or having the cohort when I was in the NRT of like,
[00:13:23.800]I was able to kind of reach out to people and be like,
[00:13:27.360]hey, is this,
[00:13:28.890]what I'm going through,
[00:13:29.750]like, is this normal?
[00:13:30.810]Or, hey, what are you guys kind of going through?
[00:13:34.477]And so I think that was really helpful in putting words
[00:13:39.730]to what I was feeling and what I was going through.
[00:13:44.270]And so then after I graduated in 2020,
[00:13:48.720]during like peak COVID season,
[00:13:52.620]I had a summer job already lined up,
[00:13:55.380]but then afterwards I pretty much was unemployed
[00:14:00.780]for a little over, more than half a year.
[00:14:06.050]And I think that was also tough of,
[00:14:09.900]here, I had all of this experience,
[00:14:12.800]I had education,
[00:14:13.810]I had a master's,
[00:14:15.350]and I still wasn't really getting interviews.
[00:14:19.880]And there wasn't,
[00:14:23.380]and it was really difficult because conservation,
[00:14:28.630]there's a lot of opportunities in conservation
[00:14:31.740]that are unpaid, or a lot of positions are temporary.
[00:14:37.100]And it's not really realistic,
[00:14:40.840]especially for communities of color to say,
[00:14:44.630]oh, here's this two-month job or one-month job,
[00:14:49.170]pack up all your stuff,
[00:14:50.800]go out to the middle of nowhere,
[00:14:52.430]you don't even know if you're gonna get the job yet,
[00:14:55.392]and then you're gonna get,
[00:14:57.170]you're only gonna pay for your housing
[00:14:58.620]or something like that.
[00:14:59.480]And I feel like
[00:15:04.090]if we want to make conservation more inclusive,
[00:15:07.538]we really need to consider why a lot of positions
[00:15:12.360]are either unpaid or so short term
[00:15:16.320]that it's not feasible for a lot of people,
[00:15:22.750]especially low income communities.
[00:15:26.890]And so during my time that I was looking for jobs,
[00:15:31.930]I kind of came upon the position
[00:15:35.010]through the Hispanic Access Foundation,
[00:15:37.410]and I got the position with the U.S. Forest Service
[00:15:42.050]and it's a one year position,
[00:15:44.260]and basically able to,
[00:15:47.980]it was kind of like a trial run with the Forest Service
[00:15:52.630]of, it's not a permanent position,
[00:15:55.730]and just being able to kind of see, like,
[00:15:57.550]what's the agency all about,
[00:16:04.481]what are their values,
[00:16:06.240]being able to kind of just get an insider look
[00:16:09.180]about the Forest Service.
[00:16:11.280]And so I was able to do all kinds of stuff like,
[00:16:15.250]they asked me to dress up as Woodsy the Owl,
[00:16:17.480]And I was like, heck, yeah,
[00:16:18.580]when am I ever gonna do that again?
[00:16:21.400]And being able to visit their building in D.C.
[00:16:25.680]And even though it was COVID
[00:16:27.220]and most of my stuff was remote and from my house,
[00:16:32.830]it was really cool of, like,
[00:16:34.900]being at their Washington office level
[00:16:37.160]and being able to visit every now and then,
[00:16:39.330]and the building being right next
[00:16:41.780]to all of the monuments.
[00:16:45.733]And I feel like what really helped me with this position
[00:16:49.230]was that, Hispanic Access Foundation is a nonprofit,
[00:16:51.967]and not only did I get a mentor
[00:16:56.540]through the Forest Service,
[00:16:57.610]but there was also so somebody
[00:16:59.590]from the Hispanic Access Foundation
[00:17:01.600]that was constantly checking in with me,
[00:17:03.180]monthly of being, like,
[00:17:04.820]hey, how's it going?
[00:17:06.490]Is everything great?
[00:17:09.566]And I feel like that was something that I really needed
[00:17:15.128]and it's something that I feel like is necessary
[00:17:17.390]even in academia of, like,
[00:17:18.730]yeah, you can go to your advisor,
[00:17:21.550]but who's that other third party
[00:17:25.180]that you can kind of go to talk to that,
[00:17:27.440]where you know that there won't be any,
[00:17:32.590]I don't wanna say repercussions,
[00:17:34.070]but somebody that you can just kind of talk to
[00:17:37.930]without knowing that, like,
[00:17:38.840]oh, at the end of it,
[00:17:40.650]they're still my boss.
[00:17:41.710]And so I really liked that
[00:17:44.610]of where I was able to just kind of vent
[00:17:46.340]about different things that I was going through.
[00:17:49.870]A lot of like imposter syndrome,
[00:17:51.270]because here I was in the trails program
[00:17:54.430]and I had never even been on a trail or gone backpacking,
[00:17:58.330]and I was talking to like professionals
[00:18:00.440]who have been in it for years.
[00:18:04.140]And what was really helpful was the fact that,
[00:18:11.650]one, it was a plus that she was a woman
[00:18:13.250]because it was really cool to kind of see her
[00:18:16.390]in such a high position of power in the Forest Service
[00:18:18.930]and how she kind of mitigated conversations
[00:18:22.950]and different things like that.
[00:18:24.630]I thought that was really interesting,
[00:18:27.740]but the hardest part was when it came down
[00:18:31.040]to once I was wrapping up my position
[00:18:34.595]and I had the opportunity
[00:18:36.160]to get onboarded on a permanent position,
[00:18:39.150]there were a lot of nuances that were affecting me
[00:18:42.890]in the sense of,
[00:18:44.870]where do I want my permanent position to be?
[00:18:47.480]And a lot of the positions that were opening up
[00:18:50.770]were in rural towns,
[00:18:54.820]and some of them, just on paper, did not feel safe.
[00:19:00.531]And some of the things I had to consider were,
[00:19:05.689]okay, so I'm a white Latina,
[00:19:08.860]so I'm definitely like white passing,
[00:19:11.550]so I can be white passing in these kinds of communities,
[00:19:14.760]but what about my partner who isn't,
[00:19:17.630]or what about like my family?
[00:19:19.870]Like, my sisters and my parents definitely,
[00:19:23.492]I mean, I'm the whitest in my family,
[00:19:25.100]so if they were to come visit,
[00:19:29.160]I would not feel comfortable bringing them
[00:19:31.990]into that kind of environment.
[00:19:33.910]And that was some of the stuff that I had to consider,
[00:19:37.520]and it kind of sucked that that was,
[00:19:41.030]what I had to take into consideration,
[00:19:45.860]rather than just being like,
[00:19:46.830]oh, here's a great job opportunity, let me jump on it.
[00:19:49.200]Like, I couldn't just say yes to it.
[00:19:51.610]Like, I had to still think about all these other factors
[00:19:55.320]that somebody like my supervisor
[00:19:57.540]didn't really understand because she was white
[00:20:00.970]and I was trying to convey that to her,
[00:20:04.040]and she couldn't really see what I was trying to say.
[00:20:09.180]So the fact that I also had the Hispanic Access Foundation
[00:20:11.930]and being able to talk to them
[00:20:13.090]about what I was going through,
[00:20:15.840]it was nice to be heard,
[00:20:17.670]and like that somebody else also understood
[00:20:19.780]why I was making these considerations
[00:20:22.370]and it wasn't something
[00:20:23.770]that I was just kind of making up in my head.
[00:20:27.270]And I feel like that was something
[00:20:30.938]that didn't really prepare me when looking back to
[00:20:37.520]when I first picked my major,
[00:20:42.280]of just like the realities of,
[00:20:45.480]yeah, conservation is great,
[00:20:47.940]it's something I really love,
[00:20:49.060]but there's still other things that I have to consider.
[00:20:55.760]And a lot of,
[00:20:57.999]and it was just like a lot of things of,
[00:21:00.310]going to classes
[00:21:01.310]and being the only Latina in there.
[00:21:06.050]Of like, having to go through microaggressions
[00:21:08.660]where Latinas tend to be hypersexualized.
[00:21:13.160]And so having a lot of backhanded compliments
[00:21:20.120]or sexualizing a lot of conversations
[00:21:23.500]that people might think are funny,
[00:21:26.875]and not knowing how out to stand up for yourself
[00:21:31.180]because you are a minority in the field,
[00:21:36.420]are just some of the different things
[00:21:37.670]that I've had to go through,
[00:21:41.590]but I'm also very stubborn,
[00:21:43.090]and so I think that's why
[00:21:44.670]I've, like, really stuck in the field.
[00:21:48.130]And it was definitely difficult picking a position
[00:21:54.860]once it came down to like finishing up my internship.
[00:22:02.090]But I feel like,
[00:22:03.390]I was listening to a podcast
[00:22:04.560]and they interviewed an Argentinian woman,
[00:22:11.251]and she's like the visual effects for Marvel,
[00:22:16.190]and she was basically saying how
[00:22:20.120]she could have gotten further in her career
[00:22:22.800]if she would've not stuck to who she really was.
[00:22:27.360]And I felt like that,
[00:22:28.520]but she didn't,
[00:22:29.560]and it took her longer to get to where she is at now,
[00:22:33.620]but she's grateful that she's stuck to it.
[00:22:37.710]And I feel like that really summarized my whole journey
[00:22:44.870]into finding a permanent position in conservation of,
[00:22:49.590]it's definitely taken me a little bit longer
[00:22:52.960]than I expected,
[00:22:53.960]but it's, like, I'm happy with where I'm at right now,
[00:22:59.890]and I feel like it all kind of worked out in the end.
[00:23:06.560]So I'll just kind of leave it there.
[00:23:12.190]Thank you, Jazmin, that's really interesting.
[00:23:17.510]So, yeah, at this point,
[00:23:18.750]I've got some questions that range from the more serious
[00:23:22.620]to the more goofy that I could ask,
[00:23:24.870]but I'll open it up briefly first
[00:23:26.960]if anyone has any questions they wanna ask,
[00:23:29.500]either, again, raise your hand
[00:23:30.830]or just type it in the chat box and I'll read it.
[00:23:40.050]So, I think you said this and I missed,
[00:23:42.250]so is the permanent position that you have now
[00:23:44.970]still with that nonprofit organization?
[00:23:49.108]No, so, that was like a temporary position,
[00:23:56.170]what the Forest Service did
[00:23:58.470]and a couple of other agencies like Park Service,
[00:24:02.100]Fish and Wildlife Service,
[00:24:02.980]are also doing this where you do six months with them,
[00:24:08.540]and then you get like a direct hiring authority.
[00:24:12.738]And so now they're trying to encourage,
[00:24:15.880]like, if they're gonna make a position for interns,
[00:24:18.710]that the position that the interns are going into,
[00:24:21.530]it can be automatically turned into a permanent position
[00:24:23.900]rather than kind of going through
[00:24:25.160]like what I had to go through.
[00:24:26.180]Like, because I was in the Washington office,
[00:24:28.770]everybody in the Washington office
[00:24:30.060]is already kind of senior in their level,
[00:24:32.850]so there wasn't really a position
[00:24:34.220]for like somebody coming into the field.
[00:24:39.676]But right now,
[00:24:41.670]since I have the direct hire,
[00:24:43.370]I'm just kind of waiting for,
[00:24:45.120]I guess, the official offer letter.
[00:24:49.750]Yeah, but I'm already kind of in,
[00:24:53.050]like, I'm going to be onboarded,
[00:24:55.280]but it's like their whole system is kind of weird,
[00:24:59.470]with federal agencies where it's like,
[00:25:01.530]they want me, but they just have to wait for HR
[00:25:04.470]to kind of push everything forward.
[00:25:08.890]Yeah, the bureaucracy of the whole thing,
[00:25:11.210]which is like out of your control.
[00:25:12.930]Yeah, I have some collaborators with the Forest Service
[00:25:15.030]and they have described this to me,
[00:25:16.800]but, well, that's really exciting.
[00:25:20.490]Yeah, thanks for sharing with us.
[00:25:29.650]I was wondering, Jazmin,
[00:25:30.730]could you talk a little bit more about,
[00:25:33.030]I think you mentioned it briefly, how,
[00:25:38.820]kind of limitations either through not feeling welcome
[00:25:41.970]in those spaces
[00:25:42.803]or not being aware of them to, like, public lands
[00:25:45.640]and recreational lands in Nebraska,
[00:25:48.920]kind of shaped your trajectory
[00:25:51.835]or kind of like impacted your trajectory,
[00:25:54.930]or anything like that.
[00:25:57.420]Yeah, for Nebraska, specifically,
[00:26:03.870]so in South Sioux,
[00:26:06.350]there wasn't any spaces close by
[00:26:09.730]as far as like a quick drive.
[00:26:11.670]Like, it's a lot different in Lincoln
[00:26:13.020]where there's some that are a lot closer,
[00:26:14.860]but in South Sioux,
[00:26:15.760]there wasn't really anywhere to recreate.
[00:26:21.202]There's a couple of small campgrounds
[00:26:25.340]that were about a couple hours away in Iowa
[00:26:28.570]that me and my family would now and then take,
[00:26:31.660]but that was about it growing up.
[00:26:39.110]I think it was definitely, like,
[00:26:42.900]also realizing that, like,
[00:26:44.880]recreation looks very different for other communities.
[00:26:47.730]And I think a lot of the stuff that,
[00:26:52.598]I've heard a lot of talks,
[00:26:53.490]like, working with the Forest Service
[00:26:54.960]and working with a lot of other nonprofits,
[00:26:57.880]of them describing the way that they recreate.
[00:27:00.620]And I was,
[00:27:02.077]and a couple of stuff were, like,
[00:27:04.330]like a lot of times with my family,
[00:27:05.730]we would do like,
[00:27:07.044](indistinct) at the park,
[00:27:09.245]and maybe that's not like backpacking,
[00:27:10.250]but that was just something
[00:27:11.490]that we would always do growing up.
[00:27:14.160]And even though my parents aren't big outdoors people,
[00:27:20.720]like, my mom is a birder,
[00:27:23.150]even though she doesn't know it,
[00:27:24.650]but she's like,
[00:27:27.110]is always like sending me pictures of birds.
[00:27:29.350]And I was like,
[00:27:31.080]you know, you're technically a birder.
[00:27:32.340]Like, you're always trying to get different species
[00:27:34.980]to come in,
[00:27:35.813]and you don't even realize it,
[00:27:37.170]or she loves plants,
[00:27:40.620]but she just doesn't know how to learn about them.
[00:27:47.380]Like, there's not a lot of accessibility to materials,
[00:27:53.470]different things like that.
[00:27:54.577]And so I felt like there was,
[00:27:57.070]there's so much stuff that can be done
[00:27:58.950]to reach out to communities,
[00:28:02.030]and I feel like we keep doing the same things,
[00:28:05.170]expecting new outcomes,
[00:28:07.830]rather than getting outside of our comfort zones
[00:28:10.970]as scientists, and kind of meeting them where they're at.
[00:28:17.240]And I think that was kind of some of the stuff
[00:28:18.960]that I was seeing kind of towards the ends of my masters,
[00:28:22.060]which I kind of regretted,
[00:28:23.410]of wanting to do more of, like,
[00:28:27.760]whether that's putting flyers out
[00:28:29.460]where there's like the Mexican markets in Lincoln,
[00:28:33.770]'cause there's always those like boards that they have
[00:28:37.300]that people are always looking at of,
[00:28:41.410]you know, kind of providing more information
[00:28:44.110]on those locations
[00:28:46.150]rather than expecting them to come
[00:28:48.390]and read what we've created.
[00:28:55.070]So by doing the same thing
[00:28:57.890]and expecting different outcomes,
[00:28:59.060]you mean more like a passive,
[00:29:00.770]like, oh, we created the information,
[00:29:02.770]here it is,
[00:29:03.603]and then just like leaving it.
[00:29:04.720]Is that what you're kind of talking about?
[00:29:06.140]Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:29:07.920]Scientists are bad at that.
[00:29:14.480]The other question I wanted to ask you,
[00:29:16.030]or one of the other questions was,
[00:29:17.811]what advice would you give for Latino teenagers or kids
[00:29:24.810]who maybe have similar interests like you
[00:29:26.810]and maybe know that conservation is a career,
[00:29:30.060]natural resources is a career,
[00:29:31.250]or maybe don't.
[00:29:32.390]I'm not sure if that's,
[00:29:33.560]how common that is.
[00:29:35.230]what would you say to them as kind of like,
[00:29:37.090]what words of wisdom,
[00:29:38.060]what advice would you give to younger folks
[00:29:41.720]thinking about that as a career?
[00:29:49.780]I would say,
[00:29:51.790]find somebody that can be your biggest advocate.
[00:29:57.460]I think that's been the biggest,
[00:30:00.535]the thing that's helped me out the most of,
[00:30:04.100]like, John or even like my mentor
[00:30:08.290]that was in the Forrest Service, Brenda,
[00:30:11.630]I feel like the things that they both did was like,
[00:30:14.760]they were constantly talking about me
[00:30:17.330]even when I wasn't in the room,
[00:30:18.840]and they were always sharing opportunities.
[00:30:23.310]So being able to find that person,
[00:30:26.560]that is your ally in these kinds of situations,
[00:30:30.430]is really helpful
[00:30:31.263]because I feel like there was a lot of stuff
[00:30:32.410]that I just didn't know
[00:30:36.480]until they kind of exposed me to that.
[00:30:39.930]So I think that's definitely the biggest thing.
[00:30:44.350]I'm trying to think what else.
[00:30:50.401]Yeah, I would say, like, build connections,
[00:30:54.714]and I think just stick to it.
[00:30:58.610]It's not a typical field.
[00:31:04.620]I felt like a lot of,
[00:31:07.040]like, a lot of my cousins and stuff typically pick.
[00:31:10.580]And I feel like with immigrant families,
[00:31:12.340]it's very much like, you know,
[00:31:13.840]the doctor, engineer, business person,
[00:31:16.960]is like your typical route,
[00:31:18.590]and so if conservation is what you really like,
[00:31:22.140]stick with it
[00:31:22.973]even if your parents might not fully support it at first.
[00:31:28.120]I think my parents,
[00:31:30.130]not necessarily didn't fully support it,
[00:31:33.590]but I think they just didn't really understand
[00:31:35.490]what it meant.
[00:31:37.721]And I feel like, with time,
[00:31:43.940]my parents really started to see,
[00:31:45.402]through accomplishments that I had
[00:31:47.670]or talks that I would give,
[00:31:48.840]and they would still come and support me even though
[00:31:51.300]they wouldn't really understand stuff that I would say,
[00:31:53.650]especially like my mom,
[00:31:54.700]'cause my mom's English isn't that great,
[00:31:56.580]but she would still show up and come just to support me.
[00:32:01.750]So I think with time,
[00:32:05.240]they eventually, like,
[00:32:06.580]your family understands why,
[00:32:08.410]why it is that you chose this field.
[00:32:20.180]Yeah, I feel like even for someone like me
[00:32:25.270]who's white and has that kind of inherent privilege,
[00:32:28.210]finding that mentorship is really critical.
[00:32:30.618]So I can't even imagine how much it would mean
[00:32:33.360]in other situations.
[00:32:35.750]So, let me see.
[00:32:39.950]Oh, and then the other,
[00:32:41.610]just a follow up question,
[00:32:42.550]so the Hispanic Access Foundation you said you worked with,
[00:32:46.330]while you were navigating that choice of,
[00:32:50.200]what jobs to take, what opportunities to pursue,
[00:32:53.420]and kind of weighing all those factors,
[00:32:55.250]are they able to provide other means of support
[00:33:01.270]besides, like you said, the listening
[00:33:03.290]and kind of like having someone
[00:33:04.630]who kind of understood what you were going through
[00:33:06.600]was really important.
[00:33:07.433]Are there other forms of support that they offer
[00:33:09.040]in those situations,
[00:33:10.330]or is it mainly at that point, in your position,
[00:33:13.710]it was more like a support and community role?
[00:33:20.870]I mean, before I kind of came into that,
[00:33:25.420]like, getting closer and closer to the end of my position,
[00:33:28.890]they also did talks where they called them like cafecitos,
[00:33:32.740]which is like, in Spanish, is little tea time,
[00:33:36.123]and it would be a time where it would be super informal
[00:33:41.000]and sometimes there would be themes to it
[00:33:43.110]to kind of help us develop ourselves,
[00:33:45.790]to kind of prepare ourselves
[00:33:46.940]to when it came time to apply for jobs.
[00:33:48.650]Like, what are some questions we have?
[00:33:50.320]Or sometimes they would bring students
[00:33:52.700]that were in our position a while back,
[00:33:55.290]but are now having full-time jobs.
[00:33:59.068]And I think that was another thing that was really helpful
[00:34:01.920]of having that space to,
[00:34:05.960]having that community where it was just all Latinos
[00:34:08.670]in the talk,
[00:34:09.503]and it was just a bunch of Latinos in conservation.
[00:34:12.240]And that was really cool.
[00:34:13.490]Like, that was like the first time
[00:34:14.490]I had ever experienced that.
[00:34:16.800]Everybody was like speaking Spanish
[00:34:18.420]and talking about like all the kind of stuff
[00:34:20.440]that they were doing.
[00:34:21.480]And it is so really cool.
[00:34:24.410]Like, that was like the first time I was able to just relax,
[00:34:28.030]like, I felt like I was at home,
[00:34:30.410]and so I thought that was so cool.
[00:34:33.430]And so being able to provide that kind of a community
[00:34:39.690]was really nice.
[00:34:40.750]And so I think that was another thing
[00:34:42.520]that was super helpful,
[00:34:44.980]but it was more of like a moral support,
[00:34:47.590]of like, is there anything we can help you with?
[00:34:50.646]Do you need any connections
[00:34:52.210]that we might already have?
[00:34:55.390]Those kinds of things.
[00:35:01.310]Okay, very cool.
[00:35:02.730]And then my last question was,
[00:35:04.601]what's your favorite hyena trivia or cool fact about hyenas?
[00:35:13.660]Well, I can't say the obvious,
[00:35:16.360]which is the pseudo penises.
[00:35:21.330]Hold on, that's not obvious to me.
[00:35:25.920]Now you gotta divulge the details on that.
[00:35:27.590]I don't know anything about hyenas.
[00:35:30.250]Yeah, so I guess,
[00:35:32.110]yeah, like the coolest thing I learned about them
[00:35:34.760]was the fact that, like,
[00:35:36.040]males and females both have penises.
[00:35:41.518]'Cause like with men,
[00:35:44.420]it's basically like an enlarged vagina.
[00:35:46.750]Like, if you think about it,
[00:35:48.630]all their parts are basically an enlarged vagina
[00:35:50.870]and so spotted hyenas, it's the same thing.
[00:35:55.610]And I think it's like due to high levels of testosterone,
[00:36:00.773]and they're like the more dominant in the relationship
[00:36:03.810]and the hierarchy,
[00:36:06.270]and so, yeah, they're like able to,
[00:36:09.850]so they have to like copulate,
[00:36:12.340]basically, like birds,
[00:36:14.230]because it's like, it's just two penises touching.
[00:36:20.400]And they have to give birth through that.
[00:36:22.260]So, it's really painful.
[00:36:26.880]Oh my gosh.
[00:36:27.713]Yeah, that's not an obvious fact for most people.
[00:36:30.978]That sounds really intense.
[00:36:34.620]Okay, what was your other fact gonna be?
[00:36:36.690]Now I'm really curious.
[00:36:43.672]Hmm, what else would be?
[00:36:45.600]Well, I guess like a cool story of, like,
[00:36:48.673]they're able to survive like such hard situations that,
[00:36:55.600]like, there have been already like two sightings of hyenas
[00:37:00.210]that lose mobility in their back limbs,
[00:37:04.970]and so you would think like they would die,
[00:37:07.530]but they've actually been able
[00:37:08.800]to just walk around on like their front feet
[00:37:12.080]and pick up their hin legs,
[00:37:13.900]and so there's...
[00:37:17.630]One of the photographers, when I was in Botswana,
[00:37:19.790]showed me a video of one of the ones
[00:37:22.560]that happened in Botswana,
[00:37:23.780]and then I saw on Twitter,
[00:37:25.800]somebody else shared a hyena in,
[00:37:29.028]I think, in East Africa, of the same thing,
[00:37:32.900]which I thought was really cool that,
[00:37:35.400]like, they should probably die, especially in the wild,
[00:37:37.910]and they're just,
[00:37:40.270]they able to just kind of keep going,
[00:37:42.500]and since they become a clan,
[00:37:47.230]a lot of the hyenas were like,
[00:37:48.860]help them out and like bring them food or scraps
[00:37:51.550]to kind of be able to survive.
[00:37:59.120]It was pretty cool.
[00:38:00.144]I remember, I think I saw a video of it,
[00:38:01.537]hyena doing that once,
[00:38:02.400]and, yeah, definitely have to do a double take.
[00:38:08.570]But I think,
[00:38:09.403]so looks like we're right at about 5:45,
[00:38:12.510]so we'll probably wrap up here.
[00:38:14.983]Thank you, Jazmin so much for coming and sharing with us.
[00:38:19.460]You are free to either hang out for the second half,
[00:38:22.670]or if you've gotta buzz off to something else, feel free,
[00:38:25.100]but, yeah, thank you so much for coming and talking to us.
[00:38:28.250]It was a really interesting talk.
[00:38:30.310]Yeah, thanks for having me.
[00:38:36.240]All right, and then I'll hand it off to Cara.
[00:38:39.140]Great, thank you both.
[00:38:40.923]That was a really wonderful presentation and conversation.
[00:38:44.268]I'm excited actually for some overlap
[00:38:46.510]in conversations about natural resources
[00:38:48.580]with some of the content that Maysaa and I
[00:38:50.370]will be sharing next,
[00:38:51.770]so thank you for that.
[00:38:54.130]I am gonna share my green here to get started.
[00:39:01.060]Get us into slideshow mode here.
[00:39:03.800]Everybody see okay?
[00:39:10.385]I am presenting today with Maysaa,
[00:39:13.620]and we will be giving more personal bios as we go on.
[00:39:18.340]So I'm really excited for this.
[00:39:19.650]For the second installment tonight,
[00:39:21.240]we're talking about Voices of Heartland Immigrant
[00:39:23.310]and Refugee Communities,
[00:39:25.120]and to position this conversation,
[00:39:27.670]looking at Mary Pipher's book,
[00:39:29.207]"The Middle of Everywhere,"
[00:39:30.320]where she explores this idea of a global village
[00:39:33.790]in which identity and culture shift
[00:39:35.900]when they're separated from the bounds of territory
[00:39:38.070]and looking at the intersection of local
[00:39:41.020]and then multinational and global issues.
[00:39:43.500]So framing this is a history of immigrant settlement
[00:39:46.750]in the Great Plains
[00:39:49.428]as historic and temporary home
[00:39:51.640]to very rich cultures, languages,
[00:39:53.410]and diverse groups of people.
[00:39:55.010]From the indigenous people of the Great Plains,
[00:39:56.950]to then later history as colonization
[00:39:59.110]and immigration and policies such as the Homestead Act,
[00:40:03.120]encouraged other diverse groups to make their ways
[00:40:05.520]to the Great Plains.
[00:40:07.580]Despite being born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska myself,
[00:40:10.180]it was through my employment
[00:40:11.640]as an English for English language learners students,
[00:40:15.520]ELL, with Lincoln public schools,
[00:40:17.260]that I began to really know and understand
[00:40:19.360]the multinational communities
[00:40:21.153]here in the capital city and across the state.
[00:40:24.170]As the second largest school district
[00:40:25.740]in the state Lincoln public schools,
[00:40:27.320]serves students and families representing 152 countries
[00:40:31.470]and speaking 130 different languages,
[00:40:34.470]Lincoln, as well as other areas of the state,
[00:40:36.570]are home to historic and contemporary immigrant
[00:40:38.910]and refugee communities.
[00:40:40.720]Story and experience sharing are central to this.
[00:40:43.000]We see that in stories told in the media
[00:40:45.640]from both very positive and celebratory lenses,
[00:40:48.230]and more deficit lenses.
[00:40:50.520]Honoring and celebrating the contributions
[00:40:53.260]as influential counter narratives
[00:40:55.180]and practices disrupt and address homogenizing
[00:40:58.620]and oppressive social and political structures and policies.
[00:41:01.900]This effort to move beyond headlines
[00:41:04.760]and into the homes of refugees around the world,
[00:41:06.850]as Pipher discusses,
[00:41:08.420]in the middle of everywhere
[00:41:09.380]is part of our conversation tonight.
[00:41:11.760]So just to frame this,
[00:41:13.870]refugee resettlement is comparatively high in Nebraska
[00:41:17.100]when looking at the rest of the United States.
[00:41:20.390]Nebraska and Lincoln, specifically,
[00:41:22.330]is home to over 30,000 immigrants and refugees
[00:41:25.547]from about 150 different countries.
[00:41:28.410]In 2016, Nebraska resettled more refugees per capita
[00:41:31.870]than any other state in the United States.
[00:41:35.310]Our growth in the state comes from international
[00:41:39.330]rather than domestic migration.
[00:41:41.290]So when we're talking about more people
[00:41:43.040]finding their homes here,
[00:41:44.040]it's from other countries in the world
[00:41:45.390]rather than other states.
[00:41:47.290]And situating ourselves here in Lancaster County,
[00:41:49.880]we are second for top number of foreign born population.
[00:41:54.880]So, with all of that background,
[00:41:57.010]I want to get into the conversation
[00:41:58.600]we're gonna have here today.
[00:42:00.670]And as a teacher of multinational
[00:42:03.170]and emergent multilingual students,
[00:42:04.920]the rich history of immigration in Nebraska
[00:42:07.490]is a topic that makes space for students to connect with
[00:42:11.020]and leverage their own experiences and lived realities.
[00:42:14.120]Through graduate work with the Nebraska Writing Project
[00:42:16.730]and Husker Writers and the mentorship of doctors,
[00:42:18.830]Robert Brook and Rachel Shaw,
[00:42:20.560]I was introduced to the concept of place conscious
[00:42:23.210]and place-based learning and critical pedagogy,
[00:42:25.580]which was really changing for me as an educator
[00:42:28.140]and as a person.
[00:42:29.787]Place conscious learning focuses
[00:42:31.670]on students constructing critical under standings
[00:42:34.170]of their community and place,
[00:42:35.950]exploring historical cultural, political,
[00:42:38.150]and economic layers and issues of community
[00:42:41.290]that may include social and ecological justice,
[00:42:43.557]as Maysaa will be sharing with us today
[00:42:46.100]with one of her projects,
[00:42:48.050]or inquiries linked
[00:42:48.920]to indigenous world views and perspectives,
[00:42:51.320]and different ways of knowing.
[00:42:53.230]It also attends to do decolonization
[00:42:55.190]and addressing and ending exploitative ways
[00:42:57.410]of thinking and practices that perpetuate that.
[00:43:00.370]The photos shown here are from a spring 2018
[00:43:03.640]eight-week joint class project,
[00:43:05.350]back when we could go places before COVID hit,
[00:43:08.060]which was a fun time in education.
[00:43:10.560]And this project was through the Nebraska Writing Project.
[00:43:13.260]Students in my ELL thematic studies course
[00:43:15.960]at North Star High School
[00:43:17.650]partnered with Dr. Robert Brooks College
[00:43:19.580]junior uses of literacy English students,
[00:43:22.870]and also Homestead National Monument of America,
[00:43:25.460]which is where we're at in the pictures.
[00:43:27.520]The project focused on immigration issues
[00:43:30.610]in Lincoln, Nebraska,
[00:43:32.100]grounded in the historical study
[00:43:33.760]of the Homestead Act as impetus for new immigration
[00:43:37.020]to the state,
[00:43:38.130]as well as student's first person accounts
[00:43:40.500]of their own recent immigration to Lincoln,
[00:43:43.190]and then cooperative work with four local agencies
[00:43:45.830]that provided support for refugees,
[00:43:47.620]including the Center For People in Need,
[00:43:49.560]El Centro de las Americas,
[00:43:51.460]Asian Community and Cultural Center,
[00:43:53.210]and the Yazidi Cultural Center.
[00:43:55.190]The project is an example of the place conscious
[00:43:57.520]educational principle of spiraling out
[00:44:00.140]from local to regional and national, international issues.
[00:44:04.040]This project deepened my own connections to community
[00:44:07.030]and my students,
[00:44:08.350]and story sharing was central to our shared memorable
[00:44:11.220]and immersive learning experience.
[00:44:13.490]So all of that talk and background
[00:44:15.640]leads me to introduce my fabulous co-presenter this evening.
[00:44:20.070]I share this to lay a foundation
[00:44:22.050]for the focus of a conversation on immigration
[00:44:25.640]and place-based studies,
[00:44:27.120]and storying is also a central theme.
[00:44:30.190]Here I have with me is Maysaa Khalaf,
[00:44:32.180]who is here to share insights about the Yazidi people,
[00:44:35.200]an immigrant community unique to Lincoln, Nebraska
[00:44:37.950]here in the United States,
[00:44:39.350]and to share her own experiences,
[00:44:41.130]engaging local networks for an awesome place-based project.
[00:44:45.260]I'm privileged to have met Maysaa
[00:44:47.150]during my time as a teacher when I was at North Star.
[00:44:50.080]And this picture here, I found today on my phone,
[00:44:52.750]time traveling a little bit,
[00:44:54.290]from May, 2019, her high school graduation.
[00:44:58.070]She's a participant in my dissertation research
[00:45:00.730]and I'm thrilled to have her here with me today
[00:45:02.780]to share her own work as a young scholar.
[00:45:04.930]Maysaa, you're up.
[00:45:07.190]Would you introduce yourself
[00:45:08.980]and share the story of your experience
[00:45:11.160]immigrating from Iraq to Lincoln, Nebraska?
[00:45:14.713]thank you so much for that, Ms. Morgenson.
[00:45:16.670]And yeah, as she said, my name is Maysaa Khalaf,
[00:45:19.630]I was born in Sinjar, Ninawa, Iraq.
[00:45:22.940]I lived there for about 15 years,
[00:45:25.270]and most of my life so far was lived in Sinjar, Ninawa.
[00:45:29.410]And then I moved in 2014 for the first time
[00:45:32.020]because of the genocide.
[00:45:33.620]Some of you might heard of ISIS,
[00:45:35.306]that was on August 3rd, 2014.
[00:45:38.590]They attacked the city of Sinjar,
[00:45:40.100]as you can see on the upper picture,
[00:45:41.730]that is the city of Sinjar.
[00:45:43.920]And there's a silo, if you can close look at that,
[00:45:46.810]I lived right next to that silo super close to that area,
[00:45:50.130]and it is the insurance to the city,
[00:45:51.960]and so when the ISIS attacked the city,
[00:45:55.417]our house would be the one of the first houses to attack
[00:45:58.450]if we were there at the time.
[00:46:00.320]But luckily, my family and I were away
[00:46:02.830]on a vacation in Northern Iraq.
[00:46:04.470]We were going to Lalish to practice our religion
[00:46:08.940]for the holiday that was coming on August 5th.
[00:46:11.730]And so we were gone,
[00:46:12.630]and that was the reason that we survived the genocide,
[00:46:15.010]otherwise, there would be no way my family would survive
[00:46:17.580]for the location that we were in at the time.
[00:46:20.870]2014, after the situation happened,
[00:46:24.750]two days after, we immigrated to Turkey.
[00:46:27.330]At the time, I had two brothers,
[00:46:28.870]one of them was in Germany
[00:46:29.840]and the other one was in the United States.
[00:46:31.940]They heard the news,
[00:46:33.230]they called us and they said,
[00:46:34.800]this is happening,
[00:46:35.633]we don't know if the ISIS are gonna come to Northern Iraq,
[00:46:37.900]get out of the country,
[00:46:39.130]save everyone and just immediately get out of there.
[00:46:41.280]And so after the call,
[00:46:43.040]we got our visas and we took the bus
[00:46:45.530]from Northern Iraq to Turkey.
[00:46:47.580]It shares borders,
[00:46:48.470]you will see in a second.
[00:46:49.770]But we went to Turkey,
[00:46:51.297]and we went from having a house,
[00:46:53.230]and my parents had spent so much time and so many years
[00:46:56.330]to build that house and build those memories,
[00:46:58.410]and they never wanted to leave the land
[00:46:59.800]because it meant so much for them,
[00:47:01.170]but in one day, in 24 hours,
[00:47:03.700]every single thing was destroyed,
[00:47:05.260]and we had nothing left just in that moment.
[00:47:08.260]And so when we got to Turkey,
[00:47:10.440]we gather the bus, not knowing anyone, not knowing language,
[00:47:13.530]nothing was planned for,
[00:47:14.560]so we were homeless,
[00:47:15.810]we did not know anybody,
[00:47:16.910]and so we stayed at a park for three to five days,
[00:47:20.530]just on the street.
[00:47:21.610]My sister was pregnant at the time.
[00:47:23.040]He also had kids with us,
[00:47:24.110]and so it was one of the hardest situation that we were in.
[00:47:27.730]But also, people were going through even worse situation,
[00:47:31.504]being at Sinjar at the time, being killed.
[00:47:35.260]And then women were used for sexual slavery,
[00:47:37.910]and elders were being killed,
[00:47:39.500]and they were taking kids to teach them
[00:47:41.080]how to be a future ISIS.
[00:47:43.050]And so we were in Turkey for about a year.
[00:47:45.171]One of the reason why Turkey was sharing the border,
[00:47:48.780]the other reason we wanted to go and ask the IOM.
[00:47:51.160]IOM stands for Immigration Organization for Migration.
[00:47:55.440]They bring immigrants from all over the world
[00:47:57.580]almost to United States.
[00:47:59.570]And so we got in touch with them and said,
[00:48:01.330]hey, if we can work on our process,
[00:48:03.760]we don't wanna go back to Iraq,
[00:48:05.160]we really wanna settle somewhere and be somewhere safe.
[00:48:07.940]And so told us at the time that our file was only,
[00:48:12.270]we could only have our file,
[00:48:13.860]access our file in Jordan or in Egypt.
[00:48:17.220]And at the time we couldn't go back to Iraq
[00:48:19.700]because it was dangerous,
[00:48:21.370]we couldn't fly from Turkey to Jordan or Egypt
[00:48:23.874]because we were not Turkish citizen,
[00:48:26.890]and Egypt was not an option also
[00:48:28.720]because it was a also dangerous at the time.
[00:48:30.850]So Jordan was really the one that made sense.
[00:48:33.710]We had to make the choice and sacrifice going back to Iraq
[00:48:36.450]and waiting for our visas to make it to Jordan.
[00:48:40.830]And so we waited for a year and a half in Iraq.
[00:48:43.250]I even went back to school
[00:48:44.160]because of how long it took the process.
[00:48:46.860]And then after a year and a half,
[00:48:48.170]we got the visas and then we immigrated,
[00:48:51.050]really, to Amman, Jordan.
[00:48:53.210]We stayed there for about two years.
[00:48:54.980]We work on our process with the IOM.
[00:48:57.200]Two years, we didn't work,
[00:48:59.040]I couldn't go to school for not being a citizen.
[00:49:01.010]So really we were just waiting every single day
[00:49:03.410]to hear from them to make it to the United States.
[00:49:05.980]And then luckily, and one of the happiest moments
[00:49:09.020]is we arrived to Lincoln, Nebraska on June 28th, 2016,
[00:49:13.730]where really every single thing changed,
[00:49:15.290]and finally we found a home where we can settle and be safe,
[00:49:19.320]and just focus on ourselves and our futures.
[00:49:21.430]And so after coming here,
[00:49:23.270]obviously, school was the first thing that I looked into.
[00:49:25.680]And I didn't speak English at the time,
[00:49:27.950]so I couldn't really get my GD,
[00:49:31.160]so I restarted high school
[00:49:32.227]and I graduated in three years
[00:49:33.890]at Lincoln North Star High School.
[00:49:35.610]And then currently. I am a junior with a Bucket scholarship
[00:49:39.370]at the University of Nebraska in Omaha,
[00:49:41.210]majoring in business administration,
[00:49:42.800]and concentration in international business and economy.
[00:49:46.470]And so the next slide,
[00:49:47.800]this is just a visual location
[00:49:49.830]of where Iraq looks like on the left,
[00:49:51.890]and then the right one,
[00:49:53.540]the border sharing of Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
[00:49:57.050]This is just a visual for you
[00:49:58.510]if you don't really know where that is located.
[00:50:02.091]Thank you, Maysaa, for sharing your story with us.
[00:50:05.510]Could you tell us more about the Yazidi people
[00:50:08.150]and the community living here in Nebraska?
[00:50:10.800]Yeah, so for the Yazidi community,
[00:50:12.910]if you were to ask anybody,
[00:50:14.040]we say that we are the oldest religion.
[00:50:16.270]I like to say that we consider ourselves
[00:50:18.330]the oldest religion,
[00:50:19.240]because we really don't have that in reading,
[00:50:21.070]we don't really have that in history,
[00:50:22.910]and based on the,
[00:50:27.100]based on of the information that was given
[00:50:32.980]in the Lalish area,
[00:50:34.080]so Lalish has a lot of old symbols,
[00:50:36.850]and it's pretty old.
[00:50:38.260]It's almost a cave, and also built in a temple.
[00:50:41.650]So the temple is built inside,
[00:50:44.600]on top of a cave,
[00:50:46.760]and so all the drying and all the information and symbol
[00:50:49.670]is like really, really historical and old.
[00:50:51.750]Because of that,
[00:50:52.583]we consider ourselves the oldest religion.
[00:50:54.340]And also the genocide that happened,
[00:50:57.080]the latest genocide happened was in 2014,
[00:50:59.570]and that was the number 74th.
[00:51:02.260]And because of that,
[00:51:03.300]we know that we're really old
[00:51:04.490]and we keep surviving this genocide.
[00:51:06.480]And I also also say that the religion is pretty small,
[00:51:09.950]so pretty small really doesn't give a number,
[00:51:12.670]but before the genocide,
[00:51:13.900]we were about 400,000 in Shingal.
[00:51:16.040]Shingal is another name for Sinjar.
[00:51:19.180]In Arabic it's called Sinjar.
[00:51:20.240]And so there were about 200,000 lived in Northern Iraq,
[00:51:24.060]and the other one lived in,
[00:51:27.320]the other 400 lived in Shingal.
[00:51:29.620]I keep confusing between the names now.
[00:51:32.160]So that is according to yazidi.com.
[00:51:34.270]Again, this was before the genocide,
[00:51:35.620]so all of that changed,
[00:51:36.590]a lot of people were killed,
[00:51:37.780]so that number is definitely lower than that.
[00:51:41.700]So after the genocide,
[00:51:42.870]some people said that we're gonna stay here no matter what.
[00:51:45.970]Even if they're gonna kill us,
[00:51:47.010]we're not leaving this country.
[00:51:48.100]This is our place.
[00:51:49.150]Other people migrated
[00:51:50.920]and took the harder way to go to Europe,
[00:51:54.070]and they didn't want to stay there
[00:51:55.210]because they wanted to save their kids
[00:51:56.540]and have a better future for them.
[00:51:58.670]Some other came to United States.
[00:52:00.440]And so when they took the decision to go to Europe,
[00:52:04.434]not every single person went with an organization,
[00:52:06.960]some of them took the ocean,
[00:52:08.960]and that ocean is really risky.
[00:52:10.620]It's a 70 to 90% death in it,
[00:52:14.151]so the people actually took their families and their kids,
[00:52:18.220]and they want on something we call, tube.
[00:52:20.050]It's a really small plastic thing you get on,
[00:52:23.160]and they just send you all the way to,
[00:52:25.630]on the other side of the ocean,
[00:52:26.880]and it's not guaranteed.
[00:52:28.670]It can be cold.
[00:52:29.850]Cold could be a problem.
[00:52:31.910]Something happened to the tube could be a problem.
[00:52:33.660]Every single thing could,
[00:52:34.880]it has a very high risk to it.
[00:52:36.087]And so people still do it and didn't want to stay,
[00:52:38.580]but others didn't want to leave.
[00:52:41.300]And so moving on to the Yazidis,
[00:52:43.757]the highest population is in Germany,
[00:52:46.070]United States and Iraq,
[00:52:47.160]and they are also in other surrounding Europe country
[00:52:49.870]such as Holland.
[00:52:51.310]They are also an Australia, France, Turkey,
[00:52:53.430]Russia, Georgia, and Armenia.
[00:52:55.654]The reason, and in United States,
[00:52:57.530]we're actually everywhere in the U.S.,
[00:52:59.060]but the highest population is in Lincoln, Nebraska,
[00:53:02.680]which is always I highlight,
[00:53:04.310]and I was like, it's shockingly interesting
[00:53:06.320]that we're in the Midwest
[00:53:08.040]and in the middle of United States.
[00:53:09.380]And so, yeah.
[00:53:13.760]So as a senior in high school,
[00:53:16.820]Maysaa completed a really impressive project
[00:53:19.250]to earn a Gold Award with the Girl Scouts of America.
[00:53:22.190]Maysaa, could you tell us about that project,
[00:53:24.672]Bringing Yazidi Lalish to our American Home?
[00:53:28.300]Yeah, so my project was called,
[00:53:29.550]Bringing Yazidi Lalish to our American Home,
[00:53:31.680]and that project,
[00:53:33.031]it started in,
[00:53:34.190]when I was in high school,
[00:53:35.300]I really tried to involve myself
[00:53:38.010]in so many things as possible.
[00:53:39.550]I was trying to learn about the American community,
[00:53:42.170]I was trying to learn in English as much as possible,
[00:53:44.090]I knew that they wanted to pursue a career,
[00:53:45.640]I knew I wanted to go to college,
[00:53:46.930]so I tried to take every single possible way to be active
[00:53:50.190]and learn more and as much as possible,
[00:53:51.940]so it's easier for me in college,
[00:53:53.949]speak the language and I get the culture
[00:53:56.120]and every single thing.
[00:53:56.953]And so, I was in so many different things.
[00:53:59.360]Sometimes I would come back home like super late at night.
[00:54:03.240]I also was in soccer.
[00:54:04.430]One of that happen, to be girl scout,
[00:54:07.430]and I really like the idea of Girl Scouts
[00:54:09.400]because I, coming from Iraq,
[00:54:11.090]you don't really have a lot of freedom as a female.
[00:54:12.770]You don't really lead things.
[00:54:14.000]You don't really do a lot of things
[00:54:15.160]that you could do here in the United States.
[00:54:16.880]And so when I heard that independent women,
[00:54:19.240]you work on your own project,
[00:54:20.460]you can work on a development,
[00:54:21.810]and a lot of things that never crossed my mind.
[00:54:24.800]And so I really loved that we could do that on our own
[00:54:28.400]in one group.
[00:54:29.300]And so I really like that, so I joined
[00:54:32.440]and I did every single thing with Girl Scouts.
[00:54:34.210]And then I had my mentor, her name is Renee,
[00:54:36.830]and she came up to me my senior year and she was like,
[00:54:39.810]you've been doing so much,
[00:54:41.410]you might as well think about
[00:54:42.832]getting your highest award with Girl Scouts,
[00:54:45.370]and it's the Gold Award.
[00:54:47.890]And you have to work on a community project
[00:54:51.630]that is sustainable as well,
[00:54:53.330]and so these two things had to be part of the project.
[00:54:55.907]And also, at the time,
[00:54:58.010]I happened to be one,
[00:55:00.180]in the state of Nebraska,
[00:55:01.440]maybe the only refugee/immigrant
[00:55:04.340]that was in Girl Scouts.
[00:55:05.940]Everyone here actually is American, really.
[00:55:08.740]And so after working on that,
[00:55:11.560]we had a couple of meetings together
[00:55:13.140]and we were brainstorming,
[00:55:14.530]what do I wanna work on?
[00:55:16.080]Our last meeting, we connected the dots,
[00:55:18.500]and I was passionate about my community.
[00:55:21.900]We also were like going about,
[00:55:23.100]what do we have in the community?
[00:55:24.103]What kind of things I can work on?
[00:55:25.730]And then we up to the founding the cemetery.
[00:55:29.844]So there's a nonprofit organization
[00:55:31.668]called the United Yazidi Community of America,
[00:55:34.670]and there was a 20-acre land donated to them,
[00:55:38.820]and that land,
[00:55:39.910]they decided to use that land as a cemetery for people here
[00:55:43.110]to bury their loved ones and just keep them in a safe area
[00:55:46.110]here in the United States.
[00:55:47.700]And so after kind of talking to them and saying,
[00:55:52.110]hey, this is my project,
[00:55:53.220]I really wanna,
[00:55:54.310]we we're trying to work on beautifying the cemetery.
[00:55:57.210]As you can see here in the picture,
[00:55:58.630]if you go to any cemetery,
[00:56:01.170]this one that is on the right side, Oak Creek Cemetery,
[00:56:04.730]normally this is what it looked like.
[00:56:06.240]Green, trees, peaceful.
[00:56:07.710]You go there,
[00:56:08.543]and it's actually, like, it gives you peaceful vibe,
[00:56:10.610]but the other one,
[00:56:11.443]the National Yazidi Cemetery on the left-hand,
[00:56:13.570]it's really empty.
[00:56:14.700]You drive by and you don't even notice that this is,
[00:56:17.330]it almost feels like a left plan,
[00:56:19.120]it's not a cemetery.
[00:56:20.010]And so I didn't really like that.
[00:56:22.050]And another reason why that,
[00:56:23.620]because my father actually was buried there
[00:56:25.440]a year before this project was worked on.
[00:56:28.074]He was buried there a couple days after,
[00:56:32.562]March 3rd, 2018, that's where he passed away,
[00:56:35.430]and so it meant so much to me.
[00:56:37.530]He always liked trees,
[00:56:38.530]he always liked shades,
[00:56:39.560]and he always liked greenery and things like that,
[00:56:41.220]and so I really wanted to bring that there too,
[00:56:44.360]because it meant so much for me to do something for my dad,
[00:56:46.500]even though he is in that area now,
[00:56:48.390]it means so much for me.
[00:56:49.430]So I'm connecting all that together.
[00:56:52.940]I talked to more people,
[00:56:54.960]I connected to more people,
[00:56:55.927]and I happened to connect to someone from lower flat south,
[00:56:58.940]and he was a forester.
[00:57:00.540]He is the one that I had a lot of logistics about plan.
[00:57:04.840]Obviously, I don't have experience,
[00:57:06.160]Renee didn't have experience,
[00:57:07.210]so we had someone to talk to us about the land
[00:57:09.490]and the plants and all that information,
[00:57:11.180]how is that playing along,
[00:57:12.500]so I'm gonna explain that a little more,
[00:57:15.060]going in details,
[00:57:16.000]but he's the one that gave us all the logistics.
[00:57:17.869]And I also did a GoFundMe page,
[00:57:20.380]and I'm also gonna go in details about that one
[00:57:22.360]in the next slides.
[00:57:23.460]Yes, so place and sustainability
[00:57:26.020]are conversations of great importance
[00:57:27.940]when we're talking about issues connected to the people
[00:57:30.290]and land of the Great Plains.
[00:57:32.110]Maysaa had to really pay attention
[00:57:34.650]to that sustainability piece with this project.
[00:57:37.100]Could you talk more about that?
[00:57:38.710]Yeah, so I obviously,
[00:57:40.484]it started out as like,
[00:57:41.970]let's plant trees and beautify this place,
[00:57:44.070]but honestly, it was a lot harder
[00:57:46.040]because it's the state of Nebraska,
[00:57:47.700]temperature change here is crazy,
[00:57:50.240]so you have to have a specific sort of plants or trees,
[00:57:54.210]anything that you wanna work on,
[00:57:55.980]especially that is environmental,
[00:57:57.600]you have to work with the weather,
[00:57:59.040]and they need to be,
[00:58:00.280]from my understanding,
[00:58:01.840]they really need to be native.
[00:58:03.630]Every single thing that you plant in Nebraska
[00:58:05.800]has to be native because they're really strong enough
[00:58:07.540]that they could handle the temperature change.
[00:58:09.840]And so after talking to the person from NRD,
[00:58:13.189]we came to conclusion that these were the trees,
[00:58:16.630]on the picture,
[00:58:18.370]that we wanted to focus on and plant on the cemetery.
[00:58:20.897]And so moving on to this slide,
[00:58:24.640]the upper a picture right there explains that,
[00:58:27.950]the person went there
[00:58:30.730]and he pretty much got the information about the land,
[00:58:34.460]so we are able to see what kind of plants
[00:58:36.670]are gonna be in what area,
[00:58:38.260]because plants are, again, really hard to work with,
[00:58:40.340]especially when they're babies,
[00:58:41.330]you wanna kind of spoil them until they're big enough.
[00:58:43.970]And so he had all these like rose,
[00:58:46.091]one and two and three,
[00:58:47.790]and this is gonna go here,
[00:58:48.623]and this is gonna go here.
[00:58:49.760]and he also had the logistics of,
[00:58:51.750]they need to be at least 15 feet away from each other
[00:58:55.100]just because, in the future, when they grow big,
[00:58:57.835]you don't want them to have a problem with spacing,
[00:59:00.850]and they also had the different collection of species.
[00:59:05.500]We were not planning on doing one thing,
[00:59:07.370]we were planning on like having different kinds
[00:59:10.660]Yeah, there's a little more information
[00:59:12.090]if you're interested in knowing about the highway
[00:59:13.760]and all these details.
[00:59:14.593]I'm gonna go over that,
[00:59:15.610]but that's there for you if you wanted to know.
[00:59:20.920]Yeah, and so for the sustainability part,
[00:59:24.920]obviously, we all have issues,
[00:59:26.440]and issues in this project was the watering.
[00:59:30.350]And, as we know, Malcolm, Nebraska is a rural area,
[00:59:33.430]so it's really not close to a lot of businesses
[00:59:35.900]and a lot of other things,
[00:59:36.860]so watering was a big problem for me
[00:59:39.350]and for our project to really get.
[00:59:40.830]So we had to think about,
[00:59:43.110]how do we need the water?
[00:59:44.370]Where do we get the water?
[00:59:45.270]And I thought about adding that GoFundMe page.
[00:59:48.960]I started it to get the help from the community
[00:59:51.667]to dig a well or use that money to water those trees,
[00:59:55.780]at least as long as they're young,
[00:59:57.740]until like they grew up.
[00:59:59.110]And so that was the bit hardest part of that,
[01:00:02.950]but I couldn't really work on the well
[01:00:04.515]because I had to get my project done in time
[01:00:08.080]before I graduate.
[01:00:09.100]And so instead of that,
[01:00:10.630]I just raised $2,000, and I donated that
[01:00:13.210]to the United Yazidi Community of America,
[01:00:15.560]and for them to either dig the well
[01:00:17.400]or start digging the well,
[01:00:18.620]and or just get the water tanks every other week,
[01:00:22.021]or depends on how much watering it needs.
[01:00:25.910]And so we did that as well.
[01:00:28.060]And, yeah, and so all that logistic and all that planning,
[01:00:31.920]and then I still was connecting people
[01:00:33.970]and trying to get people volunteer and add to it.
[01:00:37.030]One day happen,
[01:00:38.630]I got in contact with this one from Arbor Day Foundation.
[01:00:41.470]They're like, hey, you're working on a project.
[01:00:43.610]Come to us and present your project,
[01:00:45.600]and let's see if there is something.
[01:00:47.400]And so I went there with Renee,
[01:00:49.940]They said, we're gonna think about it and get back to you.
[01:00:52.230]A couple days later, they got back to me and said,
[01:00:54.350]hey, we're actually do think this is really interesting,
[01:00:57.700]and we have Arbor Day Foundation coming up in April 27.
[01:01:02.440]And this project was, I guess, roughly in February, March,
[01:01:07.790]that was our working on in 2019.
[01:01:10.020]And so they said,
[01:01:10.853]hey, do you wanna wait until like April 27?
[01:01:13.460]Every year we try to do different project,
[01:01:15.180]we really like try to plant trees,
[01:01:17.080]so let's partner in this.
[01:01:18.660]And so they donated more than 407 trees,
[01:01:21.650]and they also, that day, sent,
[01:01:23.950]they didn't let their employee work,
[01:01:25.290]they send their employees as volunteers
[01:01:26.880]and they brought their kids,
[01:01:27.940]and sent to the cemetery.
[01:01:29.040]And so on April 27th, 2019,
[01:01:32.450]people from Arbor Day Foundation came,
[01:01:34.640]people from the Yazidi Community came,
[01:01:36.350]people from Girl Scouts volunteered.
[01:01:39.100]From my school, people came.
[01:01:40.457]And also, there were some journalists from the local,
[01:01:44.690]that came and also participated and shared about the story.
[01:01:47.470]And so it really connected a lot of things together,
[01:01:50.160]and that was the most beautiful thing, I think,
[01:01:53.200]of the whole process, really.
[01:01:58.070]That's wonderful Maysaa.
[01:01:59.110]Thank you for sharing us all those details.
[01:02:01.440]It was an intense project.
[01:02:03.260]I remember going to some of the fundraising things for it,
[01:02:06.260]and it was really a huge scope,
[01:02:08.440]so it was so exciting to see how that came together.
[01:02:11.230]So as Maysaa and I talked,
[01:02:13.470]we were talking about the themes that kind of came through
[01:02:17.650]and what we were both wanting to share today.
[01:02:20.900]And so, her project was not without its challenges,
[01:02:25.140]but it really exemplifies that success
[01:02:27.010]of grassroots networking,
[01:02:28.500]and place conscious projects
[01:02:29.860]that connect local and global communities.
[01:02:32.230]So we talked about these themes of mentorship,
[01:02:34.510]community and opportunity,
[01:02:35.860]which I also heard
[01:02:37.560]as Jazmin was talking earlier this evening,
[01:02:39.710]which is really cool to see that carry through.
[01:02:42.480]So Maysaa, how has this project shaped your journey
[01:02:45.810]since high school graduation,
[01:02:47.490]in particular, your focus on international business,
[01:02:50.850]economic development and opportunities
[01:02:53.250]for younger generations of immigrant and refugee families
[01:02:56.710]to engage in their local communities?
[01:02:59.320]Yeah, so I like to say
[01:03:01.230]that this project really wouldn't go all the way
[01:03:04.150]to where it was if I didn't really get contact people,
[01:03:06.870]if I didn't get community.
[01:03:07.930]The community really, really helped.
[01:03:09.530]And to me, when I started the project,
[01:03:12.180]I was scared of that community part.
[01:03:13.990]I was like, what if I'm start calling people
[01:03:15.700]and emailing people and they're not gonna get back to me?
[01:03:17.720]Or if I'm not gonna get enough responses
[01:03:20.160]and things like that?
[01:03:21.380]That was totally the opposite.
[01:03:22.680]So it really started off by mentoring.
[01:03:24.700]Renee was my mentor,
[01:03:25.670]and I also got a teacher from school that were giving,
[01:03:29.010]they were willing to sit down with me
[01:03:30.640]and give me advice and feedback
[01:03:32.040]about what to do and what to not do,
[01:03:34.000]and whether if there was a hardship at a time,
[01:03:35.870]if I were to explain that situation to them,
[01:03:37.680]they would actually give me feedback and tell me,
[01:03:39.300]hey, you don't really need to give up on this.
[01:03:41.120]Put this on the side and focus on this.
[01:03:42.800]It was really important that I got that mentorship.
[01:03:45.380]It really pushed me through finishing that project
[01:03:47.940]with not having doubts about anything.
[01:03:50.650]And the other part, I mentioned about the community,
[01:03:53.410]I can almost guarantee that every single person
[01:03:55.550]that I got in touch with and email or called,
[01:03:58.841]none of them really said no,
[01:04:00.340]and the one that couldn't really help me said,
[01:04:01.900]hey, I'm so sorry.
[01:04:02.733]I can't really help you with this,
[01:04:03.820]but I know someone that is interested,
[01:04:05.880]or I know someone that I can connect you with.
[01:04:07.800]That was always the way.
[01:04:09.247]And I truly loved that the most
[01:04:12.620]because people were so happy
[01:04:14.480]to see someone's working on something,
[01:04:16.240]and they were so happy to help,
[01:04:17.530]and they couldn't really wait for this to be a thing.
[01:04:20.040]And so that was the best part of it.
[01:04:22.400]And then for the opportunity,
[01:04:23.640]I guess the voice that I wanna use from this project
[01:04:26.280]and the idea for younger generations, especially,
[01:04:29.258]and especially for either women or immigrants
[01:04:33.100]coming into a different country,
[01:04:34.710]we all know that when we go from place to the other,
[01:04:38.370]we're looking for better,
[01:04:39.877]or because we don't have a lot of opportunities
[01:04:41.935]and because we don't have a lot of choices,
[01:04:44.170]and so that was the case for me,
[01:04:45.470]where i came from place where safety was not a thing,
[01:04:48.330]reaching out to people was not a thing,
[01:04:49.700]being a woman and doing a lot of things is not a thing.
[01:04:51.760]And so all these kind of information and all these access
[01:04:55.685]opened up one day when I came to United States,
[01:04:57.980]every single thing was easy for me to do.
[01:05:00.060]And so I was passionate about this.
[01:05:02.120]I saw a problem,
[01:05:03.020]I saw something that I can work on,
[01:05:05.060]and there was a project that came in my way
[01:05:07.330]and I really wanted to work on it,
[01:05:08.900]so I was like, it doesn't matter,
[01:05:10.490]I will start working on this project
[01:05:12.080]and then I will make the change.
[01:05:13.240]And I feel like the voice that I wanted to give,
[01:05:15.170]and I still wanna give to people is,
[01:05:17.370]if you are from a different place,
[01:05:18.670]and if you are a younger person,
[01:05:19.870]or not even a younger person,
[01:05:21.610]if you didn't have access to things,
[01:05:23.560]start looking into,
[01:05:25.490]that you came to a different country
[01:05:26.900]and you came to a different community,
[01:05:28.740]and a different society,
[01:05:29.980]start utilizing those things
[01:05:31.430]because if anyone knows how important that is, you do.
[01:05:34.620]And so if you want a change, be the change.
[01:05:36.980]And I think that's something that I always mentioned,
[01:05:38.680]and I will always mention,
[01:05:39.930]if you want a change, you be the change.
[01:05:43.490]I am constantly in awe on this young woman.
[01:05:46.070]Thank you so much, Maysaa, for sharing with us today.
[01:05:49.910]We will now open it up to discussion and conversation
[01:05:54.159]if others have things they wanna bring forward.
[01:06:04.340]Yeah, that was awesome.
[01:06:05.290]Thank you so much.
[01:06:07.070]I had a question.
[01:06:07.903]So do you see,
[01:06:09.380]I know you said you're looking into,
[01:06:11.010]you're studying business,
[01:06:12.670]you're looking and kind of going that direction
[01:06:14.230]with your career,
[01:06:15.063]do you see yourself bringing in any elements
[01:06:20.010]that you specifically learned on the project
[01:06:22.240]of planting the trees in the cemetery,
[01:06:24.470]kind of taking business in like,
[01:06:27.489]you know, a natural resources or kind of like forestry spin,
[01:06:30.360]or did that interest you enough?
[01:06:31.640]Or if not,
[01:06:32.830]what directions are you kind of thinking of taking it?
[01:06:36.360]So I guess environment is a big topic to me.
[01:06:38.720]I am really passionate about environment,
[01:06:40.360]I'm passionate about a lot of different things,
[01:06:41.780]but to me, taking that the project,
[01:06:45.327]honestly, I was passionate about it,
[01:06:47.880]but the project made me a lot more passionate about it
[01:06:50.070]because there were things,
[01:06:51.560]people were helping, like I mentioned,
[01:06:52.920]and things were getting done
[01:06:54.260]and people were willing to help.
[01:06:55.760]And so it was not on me.
[01:06:57.079]I honestly didn't do anything.
[01:06:59.250]I can assure that every single person that helped me,
[01:07:01.723]that was their project almost,
[01:07:03.280]and they got it done.
[01:07:04.113]And so I was the person that connected them together,
[01:07:06.140]and that was all.
[01:07:07.330]And so to me,
[01:07:08.850]I feel like no matter where you're gonna be at,
[01:07:10.540]whether you're working with government,
[01:07:12.560]or you're gonna be working for a private sector,
[01:07:14.340]or you'll just have your own business,
[01:07:16.020]if you are really willing to help,
[01:07:17.738]if you are a person
[01:07:19.133]that wanting to kind of connect things together,
[01:07:21.710]it's always good to reach out,
[01:07:23.850]it's always good to just have this idea,
[01:07:26.320]hey, I have this idea,
[01:07:27.153]maybe we should start working together,
[01:07:28.440]or maybe let's connect this to this,
[01:07:30.350]and it might work together.
[01:07:33.562]people have have think about it,
[01:07:35.487]but they don't have that,
[01:07:37.170]let's work together mindset, that sort of thing.
[01:07:40.367]The reason that I'm saying this is because I am in school,
[01:07:43.230]I also work with the state of Nebraska,
[01:07:44.900]I also work on community project,
[01:07:46.810]and so I'm trying to connect all these three together
[01:07:49.796]through another project that I'm working on,
[01:07:51.800]and so every,
[01:07:53.120]I guess, every part that I talk to,
[01:07:55.160]they're all interested in the same thing,
[01:07:56.830]it's just not together.
[01:07:58.227]If that makes any,
[01:07:59.150]I don't really know if that makes sense or not,
[01:08:00.920]but people are willing to be the change, like I mentioned,
[01:08:04.570]but we need some connections,
[01:08:07.010]we need connecting the dots together,
[01:08:08.610]if that makes a lot of sense.
[01:08:09.590]And so, I guess with my internship right now,
[01:08:12.293]I intern with the Nebraska Department
[01:08:14.360]of Economic Development.
[01:08:15.370]I am on the international team of it,
[01:08:18.160]and so my current project is,
[01:08:19.960]I'm trying to promote work.
[01:08:23.280]I'm trying to focus on workforce
[01:08:24.590]because recently I visited a lot of companies,
[01:08:27.572]and a lot of companies are struggling with workforce
[01:08:30.140]or trying to get more employees into their companies.
[01:08:32.910]I also see that immigrants, coming into the country,
[01:08:35.960]one of the first things that they wanna do is find a job.
[01:08:38.280]They're looking for jobs.
[01:08:39.330]And so not really everyone knows about companies,
[01:08:41.500]not everyone knows about the opportunities there.
[01:08:43.840]Normally, they just go to somewhere if they speak...
[01:08:46.940]For example, I know people that come in here
[01:08:48.920]in our community where,
[01:08:50.650]they have a friend works at McDonald's,
[01:08:52.030]they just go with the friend.
[01:08:52.960]They really don't do how to research,
[01:08:54.700]they don't really know how to do all that kind of logistics,
[01:08:56.620]so I'm trying to see
[01:08:57.453]if I can connect new coming immigrants with businesses,
[01:09:03.090]and actually making them,
[01:09:05.660]kind of making them fit their job description
[01:09:07.970]and not just working for sake of working,
[01:09:09.910]so at least like they're doing something
[01:09:11.300]that they're liking.
[01:09:13.580]And so that helps companies as well,
[01:09:15.930]and so I hope that,
[01:09:18.180]this is a project I'm currently working on,
[01:09:19.820]so it's in the process.
[01:09:21.010]I cannot guarantee anything right now.
[01:09:25.772]Is there any other questions?
[01:09:28.675]Or just responses.
[01:09:31.210]Yeah, thank you so much for sharing with us.
[01:09:34.800]Do you think you want to stay around the Lincoln area
[01:09:38.020]or Omaha the area over the long term,
[01:09:39.930]or have you thought at all
[01:09:41.190]about where you might wanna end up after this?
[01:09:43.460]Yeah, so I am a really open to opportunity person.
[01:09:47.094]If something were to come up I'm interested,
[01:09:49.010]I honestly would jump into it.
[01:09:50.603]I really like to try different things,
[01:09:52.337]and that does not mean I would leave.
[01:09:54.400]I will say something that,
[01:09:56.030]when I came here, this became a home.
[01:09:58.670]This was a place where I restarted my high school,
[01:10:01.570]this was a place where I started making friends,
[01:10:03.480]this was a place when I started working.
[01:10:05.110]A lot of things that I did for the first time in my life
[01:10:07.320]was in this area,
[01:10:08.340]so no matter where I'm gonna be in,
[01:10:10.050]if I was back in Iraq,
[01:10:11.620]if I was in Europe,
[01:10:12.631]if I was in Australia,
[01:10:13.464]I don't really know,
[01:10:14.297]no matter where I'm gonna be,
[01:10:15.210]this is the first home,
[01:10:16.950]after the home that was destroyed, for me.
[01:10:19.130]And so this is always going to be a place
[01:10:21.260]that I'm gonna work on,
[01:10:22.100]I will always work on projects,
[01:10:23.700]I will always get things done here
[01:10:25.110]because there's the community here,
[01:10:26.800]and there's the people that I know,
[01:10:27.970]and there's problems here that can be solved,
[01:10:30.810]and so I will always be a part of it.
[01:10:32.810]And my other thinking about it is,
[01:10:36.300]it's a yes and a no.
[01:10:38.140]I have lived in different places.
[01:10:39.660]I really like the process of getting to know other people
[01:10:42.150]and getting to know communities and cultures,
[01:10:44.470]and I feel like the more that you go,
[01:10:46.240]the more that you will know, if that makes sense.
[01:10:48.000]And so it's not guaranteed,
[01:10:49.650]but we'll see.
[01:10:51.110]I'll keep you updated.
[01:10:53.050]Yeah, you have time to figure it out
[01:10:54.820]and you can always travel and come back too.
[01:10:56.840]That's the beautiful part of it.
[01:10:59.320]Yeah, we have a question in the chat, Maysaa, for you.
[01:11:03.140]On the planting process of the cemetery,
[01:11:05.731]whether that's ongoing, or do you have updates,
[01:11:08.090]we've talked a little bit about that
[01:11:09.530]of what's the status of those trees now.
[01:11:12.100]Yeah, so, it's a really,
[01:11:14.720]I don't really know where the trees is,
[01:11:16.410]to be honest with you,
[01:11:17.300]because, I would say, some of them died
[01:11:20.490]because of that...
[01:11:22.180]When I talked to Arbor Day Foundation, they said,
[01:11:24.160]you are planning on doing 400,
[01:11:25.480]that's almost like exactly what the cemetery need,
[01:11:27.520]but they were like, no, let's go more than that,
[01:11:29.210]because the more that you plant,
[01:11:31.100]let's plant three instead of one,
[01:11:33.500]one of them is gonna survive.
[01:11:34.905]They said that this is the game here.
[01:11:37.820]There were temperature change,
[01:11:38.980]not a lot of them,
[01:11:40.020]especially we had like a smaller size,
[01:11:42.290]like the baby ones, they call them, really,
[01:11:44.210]and so they had to,
[01:11:47.793]when you plant them,
[01:11:48.626]they either get used to that temperature
[01:11:50.080]and they go with it and grow,
[01:11:51.350]or they just died,
[01:11:52.500]and so some of and did die,
[01:11:53.650]I'll be honest and say that,
[01:11:54.527]and the other ones,
[01:11:56.070]some of other ones survived,
[01:11:57.860]and so maybe we will have to have round two planting
[01:12:01.130]for the areas that they didn't survive.
[01:12:03.610]I'm sure you'll be able to find support for that too.
[01:12:05.870]And we, you know,
[01:12:06.850]a little thing called the COVID-19 global pandemic hit
[01:12:10.300]less than a year after those trees were planted,
[01:12:12.580]which kind of created some structural
[01:12:15.140]and institutional obstacles to building the structures
[01:12:18.950]and the irrigation and well system.
[01:12:21.310]Maysaa, do you wanna talk a little bit more
[01:12:23.400]about other plans for the cemetery,
[01:12:25.070]of hopes of development that they want to add there
[01:12:27.830]for the community?
[01:12:29.120]Yeah, so the cemetery wasn't only,
[01:12:31.780]I guess, the land wasn't only used for cemetery.
[01:12:34.070]It's 20 acres, it's pretty big area,
[01:12:36.390]and so they were planning on adding restrooms,
[01:12:38.233]they're also planning on adding the shelter
[01:12:40.610]just for the winter time,
[01:12:41.600]so people are planning on going there.
[01:12:43.550]It's a pretty drive from Lincoln or Omaha,
[01:12:45.780]so they wanted to have a shelter for people to stay in
[01:12:48.670]if they needed to.
[01:12:49.750]And they also wanting to add a temple for the Yazidis
[01:12:54.168]to practice their religion that needed.
[01:12:56.242]I remember back in Iraq,
[01:12:58.456]all the cemeteries that we had,
[01:13:00.390]there was a small temple where people go and visit
[01:13:03.325]and just like pray, really.
[01:13:05.460]And so I think that is a plan for them.
[01:13:07.830]It is the process.
[01:13:09.640]Things like that really takes time,
[01:13:11.080]and so it takes time,
[01:13:12.400]it takes a lot of donations,
[01:13:13.570]and so, I would say, it is in the process,
[01:13:17.170]but I don't really know how far they are going still,
[01:13:21.450]but I know that the restrooms are being worked on.
[01:13:25.740]Great, thank you.
[01:13:27.100]Are there any other questions or conversation points?
[01:13:36.574]As a teacher, I'm really good at wait time.
[01:13:41.630]Okay, well, I think that's all we have
[01:13:44.320]for our session this evening.
[01:13:46.160]Thank you everyone who joined us,
[01:13:48.380]and we'll be sure to have this recording posted
[01:13:50.940]so you can share widely
[01:13:52.150]with folks who you think might be interested
[01:13:53.860]in either of the conversations tonight.
[01:13:56.750]Thank you, Maysaa,
[01:13:57.640]thank you, Jazmin, for joining us and lending your expertise
[01:14:01.200]and sharing your stories.
[01:14:02.450]That was really wonderful to hear from both of you
[01:14:05.190]and your activism.
[01:14:06.930]Katharine, anything else, Bailey,
[01:14:09.150]fellow grad fellows?
[01:14:10.780]Oh, we have one more question.
[01:14:12.417]"Are your fundraising efforts ongoing
[01:14:14.800]or is the GoFundMe still active,
[01:14:16.540]or is there a way to contribute?"
[01:14:19.312]So I wanna answer two things, really.
[01:14:21.710]One is, the GoFundMe.
[01:14:24.050]I kind of started it in a specific period of time because,
[01:14:27.760]like I mentioned,
[01:14:28.593]my project need to be done before my a graduation,
[01:14:31.510]and it was getting to April,
[01:14:32.990]and so we had to get things done.
[01:14:35.020]So I had to stop the GoFundMe in a specific time,
[01:14:38.302]and we raised, like I mentioned, about $2,000.
[01:14:41.620]I would love to start the GoFundMe page.
[01:14:44.170]I am not part of the United Yazidi,
[01:14:47.160]like, the nonprofit organization,
[01:14:48.640]so I can't really start and just like give it to them,
[01:14:52.260]I have to work on something with them and then make,
[01:14:55.340]'cause people can't just give you money like that,
[01:14:56.713]that you have to make sense,
[01:14:58.250]you have to actually give details and logistics.
[01:15:00.190]And so for me to just start a GoFund me and be like,
[01:15:02.820]this is will be for the cemetery,
[01:15:04.270]it's almost not trustworthy enough.
[01:15:06.450]What I did with my GoFundMe,
[01:15:08.860]I told them that this is the plan,
[01:15:10.460]this is every single thing.
[01:15:11.950]I give them all the logistics,
[01:15:13.250]and I describe that,
[01:15:14.650]hey, this money would be used for the watering.
[01:15:17.840]We all know that Malcolm is a little away,
[01:15:20.640]the watering has been a problem for us,
[01:15:22.080]and this is only gonna be used for that purpose.
[01:15:23.750]And so if I were to work on this,
[01:15:25.910]I will have to get a lot of logistics
[01:15:28.095]and I would have to get a lot of information
[01:15:29.480]so people know that this is a real thing.
[01:15:32.860]Maysaa, would you drop your email
[01:15:34.740]or best way to contact you in the chat,
[01:15:36.910]so if folks wanna follow up with you,
[01:15:38.580]you could maybe help direct them?
[01:15:42.040]Yeah, for sure.
[01:15:43.260]I would love to answer any questions that you might have.
[01:15:46.970]And I have another question from Rachel Shaw,
[01:15:49.400]so happy you could join us,
[01:15:51.140]of what I have learned from Maysaa.
[01:15:54.980]Maysaa has been a tremendous influence for me
[01:15:57.620]as an educator, as a scholar,
[01:16:00.280]she has really directed a lot of my work
[01:16:03.470]in planning for this Voices of the Plains.
[01:16:06.130]As we move to conversations with others,
[01:16:08.190]Maysaa was one of the first people I thought of.
[01:16:10.180]Every time I speak with her,
[01:16:12.650]I hear or something different,
[01:16:14.410]i learned something new about her,
[01:16:16.080]about her story.
[01:16:18.170]I think of the ways to be an activist,
[01:16:20.730]I think of the ways to engage in the community.
[01:16:23.290]Her skills of networking and developing relationships
[01:16:27.210]are truly inspiring,
[01:16:29.540]and the way she is able to leverage those
[01:16:31.830]and connect others,
[01:16:33.990]she is consistently there to build on those,
[01:16:36.800]which is really, really awesome.
[01:16:39.090]She has been the one who messaged me
[01:16:41.590]every so often and says,
[01:16:43.190]hey, Ms. Morgenson,
[01:16:44.220]what you doing with that dissertation research?
[01:16:46.230]She is one of my biggest cheerleaders
[01:16:48.230]in finishing this long haul of research,
[01:16:51.090]and something we've talked a lot about is,
[01:16:53.470]ultimately, I need to do the writing for this publication
[01:16:57.400]that gets me a doctorate degree,
[01:16:58.620]but one of my struggles has been so much of this work
[01:17:01.640]has been the authorship and input
[01:17:04.530]of participants like Maysaa.
[01:17:06.450]And so we have talked a lot about different opportunities
[01:17:10.024]of sharing, presentations like this,
[01:17:13.160]of ways to help her,
[01:17:15.970]get her story out there and build on that.
[01:17:18.730]So I'm really excited for the future opportunities
[01:17:21.640]that we can share in working together as scholars.
[01:17:25.040]It's been really wonderful to learn from her.
[01:17:29.710]I could get really emotional right now.
[01:17:31.260]She's just a fabulous human being.
[01:17:32.990]I'm truly, truly blessed to know her.
[01:17:38.260]Okay, well, I think we're ready to wrap up,
[01:17:41.330]unless there's anything else for the good of the group.
[01:17:43.450]We have another session coming up.
[01:17:44.647]Katharine and Bailey,
[01:17:46.060]do you have the dates on that?
[01:17:49.530]My eyes got big two.
[01:17:50.940]I was like, we have one at the end of May, yes?
[01:17:54.050]Yes, it's a month from now.
[01:17:55.750]So what is this, this...
[01:17:58.370]The last Thursday,
[01:17:59.290]yeah, so it's the next,
[01:18:00.500]it's the last Thursday of May, same time.
[01:18:04.460]And that'll be with...
Brad (indistinct) sharing.
[01:18:08.499]So that's Matthew Thompson,
[01:18:10.680]and he is going to be talking with members from the,
[01:18:15.910]I don't wanna misspeak
[01:18:16.743]so I don't wanna give too many details,
[01:18:19.020]but it's the members of, basically, the sanitation industry,
[01:18:21.830]so folks that work in wastewater treatment.
[01:18:24.040]So folks that do really, really critical jobs,
[01:18:26.968]but don't really get recognized in the public eye that much.
[01:18:32.010]I'm just pulling up the email.
[01:18:33.250]Voices of water treatment at workers
[01:18:34.730]to ensure clean water
[01:18:35.710]for the public and physical environment,
[01:18:37.220]which has definitely been something
[01:18:38.780]that we've been talking about in Nebraska
[01:18:40.999]with water pollution and different chemicals in plants,
[01:18:44.370]so that's exciting.
[01:18:46.210]So join us folks in one month.
[01:18:48.200]Thank you everybody for tuning in,
[01:18:49.730]we appreciate it.
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