Displacement and Reimagining the American Dream
This interactive event will feature local students and young professionals sharing their lived experiences as immigrants and refugees. Each panelist will tell their story, presenting a multi-dimensional picture beyond what’s portrayed in the news. Panelists will then respond to questions on a range of relevant topics, moderated by Karla Hernandez Torrijos, the inaugural Student Storyteller in Residence with the Center for Great Plains Studies. Karla is an undergraduate student, poet and workshop facilitator whose writing “interrogates our understanding of home, displacement, and the liminal space in between.”
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[00:00:06.930]Today you are part
[00:00:08.100]of an important conversation about our shared future.
[00:00:12.000]The E.N. Thompson Forum on world Issues explores a diversity
[00:00:15.330]of viewpoints on international
[00:00:17.400]and public policy issues to promote understanding
[00:00:20.760]and encourage debate across the university
[00:00:22.920]and the state of Nebraska.
[00:00:25.200]Since its inception in 1988,
[00:00:28.140]hundreds of distinguished speakers have challenged
[00:00:30.780]and inspired us
[00:00:32.250]making this forum one of the preeminent speakers series
[00:00:36.660]in higher education.
[00:00:39.450]It all started when E.N. Jack Thompson
[00:00:42.840]imagined a forum on global issues
[00:00:45.330]that would increase Nebraskan's understanding of cultures
[00:00:48.360]and events from around the world.
[00:00:50.790]Jack's perspective was influenced by his travels,
[00:00:54.180]his role in helping to found the United Nations
[00:00:56.970]and his work at the Carnegie Endowment
[00:00:59.580]for International Peace.
[00:01:02.100]As president of the Cooper Foundation in Lincoln,
[00:01:05.130]Jack pledged substantial funding to the forum
[00:01:08.310]and the University of Nebraska
[00:01:10.110]and Lied Center for Performing Arts agreed to co-sponsor.
[00:01:14.640]Later, Jack and his wife, Katie,
[00:01:16.860]created the Thompson Family Fund
[00:01:19.440]to support the forum and other programs.
[00:01:22.590]Today major support is provided
[00:01:25.830]by the Cooper Foundation, Lied Center for Performing Arts
[00:01:30.000]and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:01:32.850]We hope this talk sparks an exciting conversation among you.
[00:01:39.510]And now, on with the show.
[00:01:46.800]We wanna welcome you all
[00:01:47.940]to the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.
[00:01:50.700]I'm Natalie Hall, I'm the intern for the forum
[00:01:53.550]and tonight's MC, it is a pleasure,
[00:01:57.486]thank you very much.
[00:02:00.930]It is a pleasure to welcome you
[00:02:02.340]to the Forum's Youth Panel:
[00:02:03.577]"Displacement and Reimagining the American Dream."
[00:02:06.330]I'd like to extend our welcome
[00:02:07.830]to those of you watching tonight's recording,
[00:02:09.720]and ask that those of you in person please refrain
[00:02:12.120]from flash photography or video recording
[00:02:14.160]of tonight's presentation.
[00:02:15.810]But before we can begin,
[00:02:17.160]I want to first acknowledge the amazing contributors
[00:02:19.530]who made tonight possible.
[00:02:20.940]First and foremost, we wanna thank the Cooper Foundation,
[00:02:23.550]which provides major funding for the forum,
[00:02:25.650]and the late Jack Thompson
[00:02:26.940]who conceived the programming series
[00:02:28.620]and to the Thompson family for their continued support.
[00:02:31.500]We would also like to acknowledge the Lied Center
[00:02:33.450]and the university honors program
[00:02:34.890]for their ongoing partnership
[00:02:36.450]as well as our media sponsors, KZUM and KRNU.
[00:02:40.770]Additionally, we wanna thank
[00:02:41.910]the Chancellor's Diversity Commissions
[00:02:43.470]for helping us present tonight
[00:02:45.000]along with Chancellor Rodney Bennett for his support
[00:02:47.610]of tonight's event
[00:02:48.443]in congruence with International Education Week.
[00:02:51.300]Since 1988, the Thompson Forum
[00:02:53.370]has brought us critical thinkers, policy makers,
[00:02:55.980]and leaders who are shaping global society
[00:02:58.500]to discuss issues that affect us all.
[00:03:01.410]In congruence with our season's theme:
[00:03:03.127]"Uprooted: Displacement, Migration and Searching for Home,"
[00:03:06.780]the E.N. Thompson Forum would like
[00:03:07.980]to formally acknowledge the indigenous tribal nations
[00:03:10.470]as the original stewards of the land,
[00:03:12.960]and that we reside on the past, present
[00:03:14.820]and future homelands of the Pawnee, Ponca, Otoe-Missourias,
[00:03:18.420]Omaha, Dakota, Lakota, Kaw, Cheyenne,
[00:03:22.590]and Arapaho Peoples
[00:03:23.910]as well as of the relocated Ho-Chunk, Sauk and Fox
[00:03:27.150]and Iowa Peoples.
[00:03:28.500]Through our acknowledgement,
[00:03:29.490]we hope to contextualize the themes of displacement abroad
[00:03:32.490]and here at the university.
[00:03:34.470]Tonight we have the privilege
[00:03:35.850]of hearing from four young people
[00:03:37.800]whose lived experiences embody our seasons themes every day.
[00:03:41.490]Though their origins,
[00:03:42.390]obstacles and achievements are different,
[00:03:45.180]one thing they all share is their youth.
[00:03:47.640]Our first panelist is Reem Ahmed,
[00:03:50.100]an undergraduate psychology and community health
[00:03:52.260]and wellness student at UNL.
[00:03:53.970]Originally from Sudan,
[00:03:55.260]Reem's family moved from the UAE to Lincoln
[00:03:58.230]and since then she has used her skills
[00:03:59.970]in spaces like the African Student Association
[00:04:02.370]and ASUN Student Government to uplift voices
[00:04:04.860]of traditionally marginalized communities.
[00:04:07.620]Next, originally born in South Sudan,
[00:04:10.080]Tut Kailech is an community organizer for NeighborWorks,
[00:04:14.400]a nonprofit advocating for accessibility,
[00:04:16.920]accountability and community action in housing.
[00:04:20.190]Following the Civil War, Tut's family fled from Kenya
[00:04:23.280]to Texas and now to Lincoln to pursue his education.
[00:04:26.910]A graduate of UNL.
[00:04:28.287]Tut also produces "Blazin' a Trail,"
[00:04:30.600]a podcast highlighting local success stories
[00:04:32.790]of overcoming adversity.
[00:04:34.710]Next, Dulce Garcia joins us as a recent graduate of UNL.
[00:04:38.610]In her time on campus, Dulce led great efforts
[00:04:40.950]to spread awareness and advocate for undocumented immigrant
[00:04:44.010]and refugee communities through fundraising
[00:04:46.320]for the Juan N. Franco Legacy scholarship,
[00:04:49.740]contributing to campus events like Undocu Week
[00:04:52.313]and UndocuAlly training,
[00:04:53.520]and in her many leadership positions like Define American.
[00:04:56.790]Garcia is a recipient
[00:04:57.690]of the 2023 Chancellor's Fulfilling the Dream Award,
[00:05:00.570]a finalist for Lincoln's 2022 inspiring Young Leader Award
[00:05:04.380]and Student Luminary Honorable Mention.
[00:05:07.170]Our final panelist is Anna Synya,
[00:05:09.480]an undergraduate criminology major
[00:05:11.310]who immigrated from Ukraine as a toddler.
[00:05:13.710]In the summer before her freshman year
[00:05:15.570]Anna was able to visit her home in Harrison
[00:05:18.420]for the first time in over a decade.
[00:05:21.030]Much of her attention since
[00:05:22.530]has focused on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine
[00:05:25.080]with loved ones having been displaced
[00:05:26.700]and eventually moving to Nebraska and abroad.
[00:05:29.880]Finally, I'll introduce our moderator for tonight's event,
[00:05:32.910]Karla Hernandez Torrijos, an undergraduate student
[00:05:36.000]and the inaugural Student Storyteller in Residence
[00:05:38.940]for the Center of the Great Plains Studies,
[00:05:41.280]the recipient of the 2022-2023 Irby F. Wood Prize for Poetry
[00:05:45.870]and the 2020-2021 Vreeland Award for Poetry.
[00:05:49.170]Her writing interrogates our understanding
[00:05:51.030]of home, displacement and the liminal space in between.
[00:05:54.390]Karla was the 2021-2022 Creative in Community resident
[00:05:58.260]for the LUX Center for Arts
[00:05:59.610]and has been invited to read her work
[00:06:01.440]in venues across Nebraska, including The Bay,
[00:06:04.230]El Museo Latino, the UNL Wick Alumni Center
[00:06:07.470]and here tonight.
[00:06:08.730]Her work can be found in "Preposition:
[00:06:10.710]An Undercurrent Anthology."
[00:06:12.450]And tonight I'll hand it off to Karla.
[00:06:15.472]Thank you so much.
[00:06:21.300]Good afternoon, everyone.
[00:06:23.040]Before we begin, I wanna take a moment
[00:06:24.810]to thank all of you for being here.
[00:06:26.820]I know there can be a sense of powerlessness
[00:06:31.260]when we turn on the news lately.
[00:06:33.120]And the fact that you're all here willing to come out,
[00:06:35.190]listen to young people and their experiences says a lot,
[00:06:38.100]so thank you.
[00:06:40.290]And thank you for our panelists for coming in.
[00:06:44.130]We're gonna start with a question
[00:06:45.690]about the theme of the panel.
[00:06:48.360]So the name of the panel is "Displacement
[00:06:50.460]and Reimagining the American Dream."
[00:06:53.190]Many of us already have preconceived notions
[00:06:55.350]about what the American dream is.
[00:06:57.390]Could you guys please explain what this phrasing evokes
[00:07:00.060]for you and what your personal definition of it is?
[00:07:06.210]I think that the first,
[00:07:07.410]not, I think.
[00:07:08.243]The first thing that I think of is my English class in,
[00:07:12.690]I wanna say my senior year
[00:07:13.890]we were reading "The Great Gatsby"
[00:07:15.000]and we were talking about the American dream
[00:07:16.530]and our teacher had asked all of us,
[00:07:19.350]and a lot of the American students next to me were like,
[00:07:21.817]"The American dream is dead, it's not a thing."
[00:07:25.230]Or they were like,
[00:07:26.063]"The American dream is being a millionaire
[00:07:27.570]and that's not really achievable."
[00:07:29.970]And I remember feeling so outta place
[00:07:32.520]because I was like, the American dream is so alive for me.
[00:07:35.580]You know, my parents and myself,
[00:07:38.010]like, the American dream for us was always,
[00:07:40.080]like, living in a house, you know, it was just our family
[00:07:43.860]and not having to live in a house
[00:07:44.820]with another family as well.
[00:07:46.560]Having like very consistent water and food.
[00:07:49.470]Being able to eat meat, you know,
[00:07:51.090]multiple times a week, like, that's awesome.
[00:07:54.450]And just like all of these, I guess, seemingly now,
[00:07:58.590]here, kind of basic things,
[00:08:02.010]but for me that's always what the American dream has meant.
[00:08:05.400]But conversations like this
[00:08:06.690]and other conversations I've had in my classes
[00:08:09.090]have helped me move past that for sure, like now,
[00:08:12.690]and because we talk about the American dream so much
[00:08:15.360]I can imagine myself as like a professor
[00:08:18.090]or, you know, like something further than the basics.
[00:08:21.690]So I feel like it definitely starts there
[00:08:23.430]but being able to talk about it
[00:08:24.780]and having those conversations consistently in America
[00:08:27.390]has helped me dream forward.
[00:08:34.500]So the American dream to me was something
[00:08:38.970]that was hard to grasp coming from the marshlands
[00:08:43.440]of South Sudan and what my parents grew up in,
[00:08:46.830]growing in the rural areas
[00:08:48.240]and then to come to the United States
[00:08:50.220]where they went through the industrial revolution
[00:08:53.730]to then have clean water, electricity,
[00:08:57.240]sewage, the list goes on.
[00:08:59.610]So I'm always reminded by my parents
[00:09:01.590]that we already are living the American dream.
[00:09:05.160]We have the opportunity
[00:09:07.110]to build our family tree here now that it's stable.
[00:09:10.200]So as I go on I have to remind myself
[00:09:14.670]it's not what Anna just said
[00:09:16.680]about a big house, being super rich,
[00:09:19.620]it's just being able to be stable,
[00:09:22.140]secure and get to be an active member in the community.
[00:09:28.050]And it's not just the glitz and the glamour.
[00:09:30.210]It's about what you can provide
[00:09:32.190]as a member of the community.
[00:09:36.330]You got it? Okay.
[00:09:43.860]I would definitely build off of that,
[00:09:46.200]the concept of the American dream,
[00:09:47.760]like having to shift
[00:09:48.600]once you actually live in the United States.
[00:09:51.300]For me, I grew up watching American television
[00:09:54.000]translated in Arabic when I was living in the UAE.
[00:09:56.430]So the American dream had always been white picket fences,
[00:09:59.940]suburbia, you know, a family of four or five and their dog,
[00:10:03.750]and like parents coming home at 5:00 PM
[00:10:05.250]and having dinner together.
[00:10:07.200]So I was like super excited to come to the United States
[00:10:09.870]and maybe live a part of that.
[00:10:12.450]And then we came here and it was me, my mom,
[00:10:14.790]my dad and my sister
[00:10:16.560]and we lived, like, in a one bedroom apartment,
[00:10:18.780]and I realized very quickly
[00:10:20.640]like this was not what I signed up for.
[00:10:22.950]I think I lived the American dream even more
[00:10:24.600]in the United Arab Emirates than I did here
[00:10:26.280]because my dad worked an office job.
[00:10:28.290]He would pick me up from school
[00:10:29.490]and we'd go home and have dinner as a family.
[00:10:31.530]And then when we moved to the United States,
[00:10:33.270]he was leaving for work at 4:00
[00:10:34.620]and coming home at like 2:00 AM, so I barely saw him.
[00:10:36.720]I'd come home from school
[00:10:37.553]and I'd have 45 minutes with him.
[00:10:40.770]And so I had to come to terms with the fact
[00:10:43.290]that the American dream is not easily attainable
[00:10:46.800]for immigrants, at least it can be eventually,
[00:10:49.110]but when you come here you really have to struggle
[00:10:50.670]before you can even imagine living
[00:10:52.680]that like suburban lifestyle.
[00:10:55.410]But now I'm not resentful of that fact
[00:10:58.650]because I know the reason my parents came
[00:11:00.360]to this country is not for them
[00:11:02.280]to necessarily live the American dream
[00:11:03.720]but for us as their children
[00:11:05.550]to have the opportunity to live it.
[00:11:08.370]And so that's kind of why it's funny
[00:11:11.070]when I think about the concept of the American dream
[00:11:12.750]and I don't think my childhood ever fit
[00:11:14.220]that basic suburban lifestyle that I wished for
[00:11:16.350]so badly from TV, but I'm still very fortunate
[00:11:19.500]that my parents sacrificed everything they had
[00:11:21.480]so I'd have the opportunity for my future
[00:11:23.910]and my kids and so on and so forth.
[00:11:27.120]Yeah, I can echo a lot of what kind of Reem said.
[00:11:29.640]So my parents and I came to the US from Mexico
[00:11:32.970]when I was five, and they had a lot of reasons to come.
[00:11:35.880]I think that education was definitely a huge one.
[00:11:38.700]I have a lot of other reasons,
[00:11:39.750]but I think that they all can kind of be narrowed down
[00:11:42.780]to kind of two things, which is stability and opportunity.
[00:11:45.630]And I think that's kind of is what is promised kind of with,
[00:11:48.870]you know, the American dream.
[00:11:50.880]As I got older, I learned and experienced, like,
[00:11:54.090]firsthand that the immigration system
[00:11:57.360]and the immigration laws
[00:11:58.920]in the US don't really allow immigrants to really fully,
[00:12:04.290]completely get that promise that, you know, they're sold on.
[00:12:08.670]So like knowing this now,
[00:12:10.890]my definition of the American dream has shifted a lot
[00:12:14.460]to this idea of kind of giving back.
[00:12:17.700]Kind of my mindset now is what can I do
[00:12:21.660]to thank my family for the sacrifice they made?
[00:12:25.410]You know, and I think it's shown up in really simple ways:
[00:12:27.750]doing well in school, getting my degree
[00:12:29.820]and letting my mom be able to witness that.
[00:12:33.240]It's just kind of slowly carving out opportunities
[00:12:37.140]and then hoping that with what I do
[00:12:39.180]with those opportunities
[00:12:40.200]I'm able to give back some stability to my family,
[00:12:43.170]if that makes sense.
[00:12:45.840]Thank you guys so much.
[00:12:46.890]I think something that I'm hearing from all of your stories
[00:12:49.680]is the dissonance between what we perceive
[00:12:51.810]to be the American dream when we're little
[00:12:53.760]versus the American dream once we're actually in America.
[00:12:57.720]I'm also hearing Dulce
[00:12:58.740]mention a lot opportunity being something
[00:13:02.460]that feels like a heavy expectation.
[00:13:05.340]You have opportunity and therefore you must utilize it.
[00:13:08.640]With that in mind,
[00:13:10.140]each of you is already accomplished a lot
[00:13:12.360]in your respective fields.
[00:13:14.250]Could you please talk about what expectations you have
[00:13:17.580]that are different from those of your peers
[00:13:19.320]that are not migrants or refugees?
[00:13:26.010]I'll go first again, yeah.
[00:13:29.160]I think that conceptualizing that is,
[00:13:34.470]it's a difficult question to answer I think for me
[00:13:38.190]because I'm not perceived as immigrant initially, right?
[00:13:41.970]I don't have an accent and I'm also white
[00:13:43.860]so I'm kind of in the space to like be like,
[00:13:47.190]yeah, I am an immigrant and I promise (laughs), believe me.
[00:13:52.890]But nonetheless, like when you surpass that,
[00:13:55.740]there is this expectation in the workplace
[00:13:57.180]that one immigrants like work really hard.
[00:13:59.640]Like I'm gonna give you,
[00:14:00.473]I'm gonna be the best employee you've ever had.
[00:14:02.280]Like, I'll be putting in the hours.
[00:14:04.200]But also at the same time there's this kind of expectation
[00:14:07.140]that immigrants are really lazy,
[00:14:09.450]or that we don't work really well
[00:14:11.580]or that you really have to, like,
[00:14:12.720]walk us through every step.
[00:14:14.760]And so it's like these two very different ideas
[00:14:18.090]of what it means to be an immigrant in the workplace
[00:14:21.177]and just kind of, like, when you're talking
[00:14:23.760]to an employer wanting them to view you very normally,
[00:14:28.110]you know, and not like, oh, I'm the immigrant worker.
[00:14:31.440]You should hire more immigrants because of me
[00:14:32.970]or you shouldn't, like I don't, you know?
[00:14:34.980]You don't want that experience.
[00:14:36.810]And then more so after the invasion,
[00:14:40.050]I think that my experience has been like this difficulty
[00:14:44.118]of what a lot of Ukrainians call the work-war balance.
[00:14:49.170]And in the workplace like trying to balance the fact
[00:14:54.120]that a lot of people are...
[00:14:55.110]Like, initially when the invasion started there was a lot
[00:14:57.660]of accommodation and a lot of my employers were reaching out
[00:15:01.620]and were like, "Hey, like how can I help you?
[00:15:03.390]Like do you want some days off?"
[00:15:04.830]And now we're over a year in
[00:15:07.290]and obviously the war initially started in 2014
[00:15:10.290]so we're a lot further than that.
[00:15:14.040]And now kind of the expectation is a little bit more like,
[00:15:17.190]okay, you had your time, let's be productive again.
[00:15:21.360]But the problem with war, one of the many,
[00:15:24.630]is that it's not quite like something that ends, right?
[00:15:31.290]That grief never ends, it doesn't really subdue.
[00:15:34.999]I'm still constantly checking my phone
[00:15:37.020]to check the family group chat
[00:15:38.280]and make sure that everyone's okay.
[00:15:40.320]Or like recently I was at work and I checked my phone
[00:15:44.580]and found out that a relative had passed away
[00:15:46.830]and it's like how do I come back for that
[00:15:49.590]and not make it awkward
[00:15:50.970]for my non-war experiencing coworkers?
[00:15:56.430]And so I feel like it's,
[00:15:59.070]there's a lot of layers to that question
[00:16:00.780]and it's really hard to be an immigrant in the workplace
[00:16:02.430]for that reason depending on where you're coming from,
[00:16:04.920]'cause there are so many expectations
[00:16:06.600]and also there's this idea of like
[00:16:11.040]at a certain point you need to work as productively
[00:16:13.410]as someone else even if you're experiencing war
[00:16:15.930]in your homeland.
[00:16:21.480]So it seems like,
[00:16:24.660]I'm the eldest of my family, eldest of 13.
[00:16:28.410]So that's already an expectation,
[00:16:31.710]having to be the one to kind of usher in all my siblings
[00:16:36.210]into this kind of lifestyle, that we're kind of born here,
[00:16:39.420]juggling that bridge between being a South Sudanese man
[00:16:43.020]and living in America,
[00:16:45.600]and then trying to make my parents happy
[00:16:48.210]because they gave us this opportunity, right?
[00:16:50.970]So I think it's always hard
[00:16:56.160]because I have to be like the example in a sense
[00:17:00.780]wherever I'm at.
[00:17:01.613]So I have to be, like, go against the stereotype,
[00:17:04.710]go against what people think of Africans and East Africans
[00:17:09.090]and what they've seen on TV and whatnot,
[00:17:12.000]and get into places,
[00:17:13.440]like, I have to prove myself that I belong here.
[00:17:17.070]That's been a constant fight.
[00:17:18.720]Like, I have to be even more studious,
[00:17:21.450]I have to be even more kind,
[00:17:23.760]I have to be more genuine
[00:17:25.140]just to prove that as an immigrant or a refugee
[00:17:28.230]that they belong here.
[00:17:30.090]And now I have to be kind to myself
[00:17:33.900]and realize that all those things have caused trauma
[00:17:37.470]and other responses as I was younger.
[00:17:40.860]Now, that I'm 31 years old now,
[00:17:43.080]I'm still considered a youth, thank God,
[00:17:47.610]I think I have to give myself the grace
[00:17:53.040]and not have to put myself on a pedestal
[00:17:55.650]as a South Sudanese man.
[00:17:57.090]This is how your kid should be,
[00:17:59.310]if you're South Sudanese you should be like Tut,
[00:18:01.650]but everybody has their own kind of way
[00:18:04.590]that they bring themselves into, you know, their city,
[00:18:07.620]their state, their country.
[00:18:09.150]And I think that's something that folks should remember
[00:18:13.590]when they're talking to immigrants and refugees,
[00:18:16.110]all these things that they have to juggle.
[00:18:18.300]So I think you should always,
[00:18:20.460]especially if you're a educator,
[00:18:23.580]be very kind to those immigrants and refugees
[00:18:27.420]'cause there's a lot that they always have to deal with
[00:18:31.110]also being in class,
[00:18:36.780]I absolutely resonate with the fact
[00:18:38.370]of like juggling it all.
[00:18:39.540]I think that for me it's always been feeling pressure
[00:18:42.240]from different points of view,
[00:18:45.060]I think American society,
[00:18:46.950]my parents and then like greater family back home.
[00:18:52.137]I think both of you kind of touched on having
[00:18:53.310]to prove yourself and make sure that people think
[00:18:55.290]that you're worthy of living in the United States.
[00:18:57.960]When my family immigrated from the UAE,
[00:19:00.420]we got here through the Diversity Visa,
[00:19:02.340]which if you don't know what that is,
[00:19:03.930]people from all over the world apply
[00:19:05.640]from countries that usually don't have as many immigrants
[00:19:08.550]to the United States,
[00:19:09.810]and then you just kind of wait it out and you get picked.
[00:19:13.080]And so my parents applied in 2007
[00:19:15.780]just because my mom's best friend applied
[00:19:17.250]and it was like, I don't know,
[00:19:18.360]we have to see if we're gonna get in or not,
[00:19:19.980]because it was either we stay in the UAE
[00:19:22.530]and then when it's time for me and my siblings
[00:19:23.910]to go to college, we move back to Sudan,
[00:19:26.010]because it's ridiculously expensive
[00:19:27.840]if you're not a citizen, and you can't be a citizen
[00:19:29.506]if you're not ethnically from there.
[00:19:30.690]So there's like a bunch of layers to it.
[00:19:33.607]And so it was either we move back to Sudan
[00:19:35.580]or we get chosen through the visa.
[00:19:38.340]So the fact that we got chosen is like,
[00:19:41.370]I did the math, it's like 0.0005%.
[00:19:44.790]That year from the UAE they chose 11 people
[00:19:47.037]and so four of those people were me and my family,
[00:19:49.800]which is like mind boggling.
[00:19:51.720]I remember when I googled this
[00:19:52.800]when I was in like fourth grade,
[00:19:53.820]I was like this is ridiculous.
[00:19:54.900]Like, how of all people we got chosen?
[00:19:57.540]And me and my family are the only ones
[00:19:59.760]from our extended family who live in the United States.
[00:20:01.560]So I only have my parents and my siblings.
[00:20:03.270]So what did I do to deserve to come here
[00:20:05.580]out of all those in my lineage,
[00:20:07.590]out of all the people who live in Sudan?
[00:20:09.600]And I feel like I constantly have to prove to people
[00:20:12.030]that I am worthy of living here
[00:20:13.530]through things like doing well in school
[00:20:15.870]and taking the opportunities that are given to me,
[00:20:17.940]getting a good job and retiring my parents one day.
[00:20:21.120]Small things like that.
[00:20:22.140]So that's like obviously an immense pressure
[00:20:24.570]that I realized like super quickly in life.
[00:20:26.460]In elementary school I was like,
[00:20:27.293]"Okay, now I gotta plan out my future."
[00:20:30.303](Tut speaks off-mic)
[00:20:31.382](laughs) Then beyond that,
[00:20:33.600]I think my family back home is also aware
[00:20:36.210]of the immense privilege that we have of living here.
[00:20:39.300]And I think anyone who's an immigrant
[00:20:41.160]or a POC knows that like people back home think
[00:20:43.740]that you're living like kings and queens in the US,
[00:20:46.140]which is like far from the truth.
[00:20:47.700]But when you compare your life to their life,
[00:20:50.340]it's extremely different.
[00:20:51.450]Like, my cousins back home,
[00:20:52.980]I mean, currently they're living through a war
[00:20:54.300]so of course their life is very different.
[00:20:55.560]But even before that, nothing that I did here is something
[00:21:00.060]that they could have even fathom.
[00:21:00.960]Like me sitting in front of all of you guys
[00:21:02.310]and talking about my experience
[00:21:03.450]is not anything my parents got to do when they were younger
[00:21:05.400]or people my age gets to do back home.
[00:21:08.010]So I feel like I have to be the best that I can
[00:21:11.790]so I can make it up for them
[00:21:14.280]and kind of thank them for allowing me
[00:21:16.500]to like thrive in this other country.
[00:21:19.470]So it's like pressure from all sides,
[00:21:21.690]but it's not something I feel burdened by
[00:21:23.670]because I do wanna live up to the standard
[00:21:26.670]and not necessarily prove myself
[00:21:29.910]but like thank the people behind me,
[00:21:31.740]thank my family, my lineage for allowing me to be successful
[00:21:35.820]in this environment,
[00:21:36.660]an opportunity that none of them have
[00:21:38.310]and then now living in a state of war,
[00:21:40.290]something that they don't even know
[00:21:41.910]if they're gonna live the next day.
[00:21:44.880]I can kinda echo a lot of what everyone kind of said.
[00:21:49.050]I remember when I was younger my mom said something,
[00:21:52.170]she said something like, "As long as you're a good person
[00:21:54.840]and you work hard, people won't care where you're from."
[00:21:58.470]And I know it came from a place of, like,
[00:22:00.930]wanting to comfort me
[00:22:02.880]but I think what it did was kind of the opposite,
[00:22:05.490]kind of instilled this kind of need
[00:22:08.160]to kind of be there for everybody else
[00:22:12.870]and it kind of made me wonder like,
[00:22:15.150]well, how can I be a benefit to everybody else?
[00:22:17.790]And this like manifested for me in being over involved,
[00:22:22.260]and trying to have perfect grades,
[00:22:24.300]and never missing school
[00:22:26.974]and feeling like if I said no to an opportunity
[00:22:29.760]that I was like not doing enough to make up
[00:22:32.970]for the sacrifice my family made,
[00:22:35.130]and that if I didn't give a hundred percent all the time
[00:22:38.940]for everything, whether it be a big thing
[00:22:40.860]or a small thing, it was like I was a failure.
[00:22:44.790]And it's come like at a huge cost to both, I think,
[00:22:47.730]my physical and my mental health.
[00:22:49.890]I did not sleep enough as a high schooler
[00:22:52.770]and much less when I was an undergrad.
[00:22:56.670]And I don't think that's like a unique experience
[00:22:58.500]for a lot of immigrants,
[00:22:59.747]'cause I think that immigrants have always been kind of,
[00:23:06.960]for the US, like, they've always been justified
[00:23:09.090]of what you can do for the US,
[00:23:10.950]whether it be something culturally,
[00:23:12.330]the food that you bring, you know?
[00:23:13.980]Or whether it be economically.
[00:23:15.420]I think that a lot of people
[00:23:17.580]when you say things like, "Oh, I love immigrants,
[00:23:19.980]they do jobs that nobody wants to do it,"
[00:23:22.290]it kind of, you don't see that person,
[00:23:24.450]you just see what they can do for you and for the US.
[00:23:27.360]And I think this is like kind of a conversation
[00:23:29.580]and a topic that I'm still trying to learn about
[00:23:32.940]and slowly like unlearning
[00:23:35.400]to see myself of what I can give to others
[00:23:37.620]and like what I can do for myself,
[00:23:39.210]if that makes a lot of sense.
[00:23:42.570]Absolutely makes sense.
[00:23:44.280]I think what I'm hearing a lot of is
[00:23:47.010]what has sometimes been described
[00:23:48.360]the model minority myth, right?
[00:23:49.860]The desire to live up to what very small percentages
[00:23:54.720]of people can actually do, which is be perfect,
[00:23:58.020]be accomplished, be nice all the time.
[00:24:00.990]And then do that with the pressure of feeling like you have
[00:24:04.500]to represent your entire culture or your entire nationality.
[00:24:08.550]I also heard a lot that was powerfully condensed
[00:24:11.340]by Anna's war-work balance statement,
[00:24:15.450]which is how are you a successful,
[00:24:21.000]quote, unquote, "successful migrant"
[00:24:23.790]or refugee while also trying to balance the realities
[00:24:26.580]of conflicts in your home country.
[00:24:28.680]So to that end, I wanted to ask a question
[00:24:30.600]to Reem, Tut and Anna.
[00:24:33.120]All of you have experienced conflicts
[00:24:34.920]in your home country either in the past or present moment.
[00:24:38.730]Anna, in particular, you have talked about the challenges
[00:24:41.640]of being a student while worrying about war.
[00:24:45.000]What, if anything,
[00:24:45.960]would you like us to understand about your experiences?
[00:24:50.940]I think the first thing is like
[00:24:53.190]for the university is viewing us
[00:24:54.510]as a special population as a whole.
[00:24:57.630]And that is students who,
[00:24:59.010]students and faculty who are experiencing war or conflict
[00:25:02.160]in their home.
[00:25:05.190]Because I think we kinda get to a problem
[00:25:07.470]when we don't view us all as one group.
[00:25:09.180]Like, we're experiencing a lot of the same things
[00:25:11.370]but we're not all in the same spaces
[00:25:12.930]talking about the fact that we're struggling.
[00:25:15.240]Because when the full scale invasion started,
[00:25:18.720]I felt so alone as a student
[00:25:21.210]and it took me a while to realize that I don't need to,
[00:25:25.980]like, we don't have a lot of Ukrainians at the university,
[00:25:29.670]but it took me a while to realize it's not that I need
[00:25:31.560]to find like the two Ukrainians at the university,
[00:25:34.620]it's that there are so many other students on this campus
[00:25:37.920]who are experiencing conflict at home
[00:25:39.930]who I can find community with as well.
[00:25:42.330]Like as much as it would be amazing to have a community
[00:25:45.390]of people like specifically from your ethnic population,
[00:25:48.540]it's a lot harder to do.
[00:25:52.050]So I think that's one big thing.
[00:25:54.240]And then I talked about this already,
[00:25:58.110]but I think the biggest thing is people don't realize
[00:26:01.710]that we are constantly checking our phone
[00:26:03.720]to see if people are alive, like, all of the time.
[00:26:06.390]Or if, you know, this hospital was bombed,
[00:26:09.450]which is also what happened when I was at work.
[00:26:13.200]You know, what's left of certain areas.
[00:26:16.530]Or we are opening our phone constantly,
[00:26:18.600]like, seeing on Instagram people posting about,
[00:26:21.480]you know, look at this video
[00:26:22.860]and like people are on the ground talking about the horror
[00:26:25.410]that they're experiencing.
[00:26:26.640]And it's not just like
[00:26:28.290]that I'm opening up "The New York Times,"
[00:26:30.570]it's that I'm seeing people who I laughed with
[00:26:32.760]and had tea with now suffering or documenting suffering
[00:26:36.660]and trying to come to terms with that
[00:26:38.280]while also living the daily life
[00:26:40.890]that we all struggle with, right?
[00:26:42.240]Like all of us are doing.
[00:26:43.830]And that's a really big thing.
[00:26:47.070]I think one thing I also want people to know is that I,
[00:26:51.540]I guess I can only speak for myself,
[00:26:52.950]but I definitely don't wanna pretend
[00:26:54.480]like it's not happening.
[00:26:56.190]It's really, really hard when you know someone knows,
[00:27:01.740]like, we all know in the room
[00:27:03.360]that the Ukrainian invasion is happening
[00:27:04.920]or like this just happened
[00:27:06.480]but no one wants to talk to me about it,
[00:27:08.250]like no one wants to be like, hey how are you?
[00:27:11.070]'Cause they feel like that's too hard
[00:27:12.360]of a conversation to have.
[00:27:14.520]But what's even harder is the performance
[00:27:17.100]for a lot of people, right?
[00:27:20.261]and I'm sure the friends on stage are feeling this,
[00:27:23.430]it's so much harder to just have to be like,
[00:27:25.920]yeah, I had a good day, had some coffee, (scoffs)
[00:27:29.730]slept well (scoffs),
[00:27:30.960]and you're, like, actually I spent my entire night
[00:27:33.510]just trying to scroll and like re-upload,
[00:27:36.990]see what was gonna happen.
[00:27:38.520]I was just checking the news.
[00:27:41.220]And I know that,
[00:27:43.320]I think it can feel like a hard thing to ask.
[00:27:45.810]I think like something
[00:27:46.650]that I am always viewing it akin to is like
[00:27:51.480]when you lose a family member
[00:27:53.070]or you lose someone close to you,
[00:27:55.350]you don't wanna stop talking about that person, right?
[00:27:58.410]You want people to tell you like,
[00:27:59.550]hey, like what did you guys do that you loved?
[00:28:01.740]Can you tell me about that person?
[00:28:04.560]You don't wanna pretend like that grief didn't happen.
[00:28:07.290]And those of us who are experiencing war
[00:28:10.140]at home are the same way.
[00:28:14.461]But, yeah, I think also, like,
[00:28:16.200]learning about the country we're from,
[00:28:18.720]you know, asking the questions.
[00:28:21.000]If you're confused about something,
[00:28:22.200]I would much rather you ask me as opposed to the internet,
[00:28:24.660]which is like filled with Russian propaganda, I promise you.
[00:28:28.470]And then also like other propaganda for other wars, right?
[00:28:32.760]And I don't mind answering those questions.
[00:28:35.730]Obviously, like if you were about to ask me about a file
[00:28:38.310]that I was supposed to send you, maybe not that time.
[00:28:41.070]But we're a lot more open to answering questions
[00:28:44.550]than people think, for sure.
[00:28:48.030]I think that a lot of like living,
[00:28:50.970]or being from a country that is going through a war
[00:28:53.550]is like a lot of a shared experience
[00:28:54.780]'cause everything Anna was saying, like,
[00:28:56.490]I definitely resonated with.
[00:28:58.890]I also agree with like people not bringing it up for you,
[00:29:02.160]but another layer to that is what's going on in Sudan
[00:29:04.860]is so not talked about, people don't know about it.
[00:29:08.550]Like the extent that they knew
[00:29:09.990]about Sudan before this current war
[00:29:12.330]or before the revolution in 2019
[00:29:14.190]was that it split from South Sudan
[00:29:16.110]and now that another thing is happening,
[00:29:19.770]or in 2019 I was in high school,
[00:29:21.180]I was like 15 years old when this occurred.
[00:29:22.800]And of course I didn't know too much
[00:29:24.330]and it was kind of what my parents were telling me
[00:29:25.890]and that whole thing,
[00:29:27.990]but I had to like realize that people don't care.
[00:29:32.430]In class or in school, no one was talking about it
[00:29:35.040]and not my history teachers, not like other teachers.
[00:29:38.760]It wasn't relevant in their eyes.
[00:29:40.260]And maybe they didn't know about about it,
[00:29:41.190]maybe they don't watch the news.
[00:29:42.480]But I do feel like a country going through a revolution
[00:29:46.170]is significant enough to be on the radar
[00:29:49.410]of the relevant teachers or just adults in general.
[00:29:51.900]And no one asked me about it
[00:29:53.190]and so I never really brought it up.
[00:29:55.440]Now in 2023 I think it's a lot more relevant
[00:29:57.930]because I'm in college and I feel like all of us
[00:30:00.720]in college are adults and should be aware of the news.
[00:30:03.630]I was taking international relations last semester
[00:30:05.730]when everything happened.
[00:30:07.080]And I remember waking up on Saturday
[00:30:09.060]and just like scrolling through social media
[00:30:11.640]and seeing like,
[00:30:12.473]actually it was my sister who like reposted something,
[00:30:13.707]and I was like, "Wait, what the heck?"
[00:30:15.240]And no one was home and I had to like call my parents
[00:30:17.130]and figure out what was going on in if everyone was okay.
[00:30:20.367]And so I was expecting on Monday in international relations
[00:30:24.210]to be asked about it,
[00:30:25.980]like not me personally but the class in general,
[00:30:27.630]'cause we always talk about current events.
[00:30:29.700]I waited Monday, Wednesday, Friday, the next week,
[00:30:32.760]no one brought it up, no one asked about it, no one cared.
[00:30:35.220]And I realized this was a lot more significant than the war
[00:30:41.940]or the revolution that happened in 2019,
[00:30:43.710]and people still didn't care.
[00:30:44.640]People were dying, people were displaced almost immediately
[00:30:47.790]and no one asked about it.
[00:30:50.100]And maybe people,
[00:30:51.360]I feel like I am pretty open about where I'm from,
[00:30:54.570]and people who knew I was Sudanese didn't care.
[00:30:56.460]I don't think I had any friends who asked me about it.
[00:30:58.920]And it's something
[00:30:59.753]that I kind of didn't internalize too much
[00:31:02.700]until like conversations like this
[00:31:04.920]where it kind of like comes back up
[00:31:06.120]and I'm, like, this kind of sucks that, like, other crises
[00:31:10.320]that are occurring in the world,
[00:31:11.310]are occurring in the United States get a lot of coverage,
[00:31:13.620]but my family and what they're going through
[00:31:16.290]and what my country's going through is not something
[00:31:18.300]that is important enough to be brought up.
[00:31:20.820]In July or June, my grandparents
[00:31:24.510]and all the people who lived in the houses,
[00:31:26.370]like a multi-generational house, got their house broken into
[00:31:29.550]by soldiers and were forced to leave
[00:31:31.290]and they had to like flee to the rural area of Sudan.
[00:31:33.720]And I was away.
[00:31:34.860]I was doing a summer program in Iowa.
[00:31:36.870]And my parents, this is something that they grapple with
[00:31:40.170]because these are their parents, and their siblings
[00:31:42.720]and cousins, but they don't talk about it on a day-to-day
[00:31:45.750]because it's just a lot of grief.
[00:31:47.550]My mom told me something really powerful that was like,
[00:31:49.837]"You don't understand how much grief I go through day-to-day
[00:31:52.800]and I don't even tell you about it."
[00:31:54.090]And I was like, "Like why not?
[00:31:55.740]Like just like confide in us,"
[00:31:57.150]and she's like, "I don't wanna talk about it."
[00:31:58.290]Like, it's just something that's really hard
[00:31:59.940]hearing her parents going through obviously just...
[00:32:05.010]Even though they're alive,
[00:32:06.390]they don't have their house,
[00:32:07.470]a lot of their friends are gone,
[00:32:08.610]people have haven't fled the country,
[00:32:09.780]they are still there.
[00:32:11.460]And so I understand why my parents feel that way,
[00:32:15.240]but it also feels like you're kind of alone in this
[00:32:18.120]and you kind of just have to go through life,
[00:32:20.700]like Anna said, like nothing else
[00:32:22.980]or like nothing is going on for you.
[00:32:25.200]And I don't say this for, like, pity
[00:32:26.610]or to ask people to check in on me or anything,
[00:32:30.210]but it's truly just caring about humans.
[00:32:32.970]Like even if you're not friends with someone
[00:32:34.740]who's from that country
[00:32:35.700]or know people who are from that country,
[00:32:38.610]you should be aware of what's going on to a certain extent.
[00:32:41.040]I hate when people are like,
[00:32:42.307]"Oh, I just don't know enough about it.
[00:32:43.620]I don't wanna like bring it up."
[00:32:44.760]It's, like, learn,
[00:32:45.593]like, Google it, go online, check the news.
[00:32:48.630]Especially when it's like this is this big of a conflict
[00:32:50.700]that's still happening six months later,
[00:32:53.160]six, seven months later,
[00:32:54.870]then people should take the initiative, I think.
[00:32:59.910]Yeah, I think Anna gave a lot of,
[00:33:01.020]like, really good action steps.
[00:33:03.330]Mine was kind of just sharing my experience but-
[00:33:06.060]Speak on it though.
[00:33:07.200]People need to hear it.
[00:33:09.390]Yeah, just kind of be aware.
[00:33:10.710]I really think it's important to be aware,
[00:33:12.450]especially with so many countries going through this,
[00:33:14.910]it's not just Sudan or Ukraine, yeah.
[00:33:22.620]So I think it all started with my parents,
[00:33:27.360]them having to deal with the Civil War
[00:33:29.877]and being displaced when they were about 15 years old.
[00:33:32.700]And then I think that grief has gone on to me
[00:33:35.400]and how they operate with trauma
[00:33:37.440]and all the things.
[00:33:40.260]As we've gotten acclimated into the United States
[00:33:44.730]I would say survivor's guilt is something
[00:33:47.910]that always comes up,
[00:33:50.040]knowing that we have it better than most folks,
[00:33:53.130]and them not knowing the battles
[00:33:56.460]that most people face in America just trying to survive,
[00:34:00.060]but also feeling bad
[00:34:01.200]that they don't have the opportunity to get a job,
[00:34:06.090]not having the opportunity to get an education for free.
[00:34:09.930]Those are all the things that go through my mind
[00:34:12.150]as I was going through middle school, high school.
[00:34:15.870]As soon as I got outta high school there was a massacre
[00:34:18.090]that just happened after we broke off from Sudan,
[00:34:24.030]then like 30,000 people got killed in a week.
[00:34:26.730]Nobody knew about it.
[00:34:28.140]But then I told so many people about it,
[00:34:30.300]they would ask me, I got tired of it.
[00:34:32.670]Like trying to grieve,
[00:34:35.790]just trying to make sense of it all
[00:34:37.110]while trying to be a normal member of society.
[00:34:42.720]I think I need some counseling.
[00:34:44.970]I think we all need counseling.
[00:34:48.300]I think it's just, it's tiring.
[00:34:51.330]But the education is needed.
[00:34:53.250]Just like these ladies said, please get educated.
[00:34:59.045]We have so much information at our fingertips.
[00:35:04.595]We could do so much by just sharing information.
[00:35:08.430]I know you might not think that you have a huge network
[00:35:11.910]of friends, but they might share that news.
[00:35:14.430]It's important for us to be active members
[00:35:16.890]in our global society, not just our local
[00:35:19.620]just so we could be empathetic
[00:35:22.380]to the struggles of the people that are here,
[00:35:25.320]'cause Lincoln is a refugee haven, immigrant haven,
[00:35:27.990]that's why we came here.
[00:35:29.340]So I think that is one way
[00:35:31.170]that you could be welcoming to folks.
[00:35:33.720]Tell 'em that you see them,
[00:35:36.810]offer them any kind of service, advice,
[00:35:42.480]information that could help them on their journey.
[00:35:45.120]That's one thing that I would say with the folks
[00:35:47.520]that are dealing with turmoil going on back home.
[00:35:52.380]I don't think there's ever been a time
[00:35:53.610]where you could really just take a deep breath
[00:35:55.230]and be like, okay,
[00:35:56.610]I'm always expecting my mom to gimme a call.
[00:35:58.440]This is what's happening.
[00:35:59.280]I gotta send money,
[00:36:00.390]but I don't even have enough money to pay my bills.
[00:36:03.360]But then I'm like, well, I have a job.
[00:36:05.160]I went to school, I can at least give them some bread,
[00:36:08.010]I can at least stretch 20 bucks, you know?
[00:36:12.180]So it's things like that that is always on my mind,
[00:36:15.987]and I would just sum it up as survivor's guilt.
[00:36:20.130]100%, yeah, survivor's guilt is so real.
[00:36:23.490]I think part of the survivor's guilt is also that,
[00:36:28.963]it's what makes it hard for us to bring it up, I feel like.
[00:36:31.770]And which is why I think we need our community
[00:36:35.250]to be more active
[00:36:36.900]because as an individual who is like feeling
[00:36:41.010]that survivor's guilt, you never wanna bring it up.
[00:36:42.847]You know, you never wanna inconvenience someone else
[00:36:45.300]even in the US, like, I don't wanna be the person
[00:36:47.730]to make you feel sad, you know?
[00:36:50.100]Like, yeah, I'm crying about this
[00:36:52.170]but I don't wanna be the person to tell you
[00:36:53.940]about this massacre,
[00:36:55.470]'cause then all of a sudden I'm responsible
[00:36:56.700]for how you're feeling,
[00:36:57.900]I mean, I'm not really right, but I'm feeling that way.
[00:37:00.510]I'm like, I'm gonna ruin somebody else's day.
[00:37:03.030]I don't wanna do that. (chuckles)
[00:37:05.670]Yeah, even though my day is, like,
[00:37:07.140]so messed up, right? (laughs)
[00:37:08.580]And people back home are having
[00:37:10.380]just horrible, horrible times.
[00:37:13.170]And then I also think like the silly little action step
[00:37:16.290]that I realized after the invasion
[00:37:18.210]is that social media posts kind of mean a lot to us.
[00:37:23.040]Like, seeing people repost, like,
[00:37:25.680]just knowing that they were thinking about Ukraine,
[00:37:31.109]it felt really good,
[00:37:31.942]like it just, it felt like you were being seen.
[00:37:34.320]Like, they didn't even have to send me a message,
[00:37:36.120]but the fact that you were caring enough
[00:37:38.130]to spread information to your community
[00:37:39.630]even though it was just like two clicks was a lot
[00:37:43.290]just to know that you were thinking about us.
[00:37:46.680]And so that's when I started posting,
[00:37:48.420]like, I went outta my way to look for conflicts and,
[00:37:51.780]you know, I wanted to learn about it
[00:37:53.040]and then also like share that information
[00:37:54.930]because trust me,
[00:37:55.763]the people in your community will appreciate it.
[00:38:00.120]Thank you so much for everything
[00:38:01.530]that y'all have shared so far.
[00:38:03.090]I think I speak for a lot of us
[00:38:05.670]in saying that these conversations do feel heavy
[00:38:09.240]but in a way that I'm really grateful for.
[00:38:13.050]And I feel very fortunate to be allowed into a small glimpse
[00:38:16.140]of your experience.
[00:38:17.850]Taking a step back from some of those difficulties
[00:38:21.540]and challenges, if I wanna just call them challenges,
[00:38:25.110]I think it's deeper than that,
[00:38:26.850]of having conflicts in your home countries,
[00:38:28.890]I wanted to ask something a little bit more hopeful
[00:38:30.990]because I think hope is something
[00:38:32.220]that gets ignored a lot in the migrant
[00:38:34.020]and refugee narrative, right?
[00:38:35.790]It's often tell us about the conflict,
[00:38:37.830]tell us about the trauma,
[00:38:39.420]and not usually tell me about the joy,
[00:38:41.190]what's your favorite home meal?
[00:38:43.320]And so with that in mind,
[00:38:46.110]we have talked about what the American dream means
[00:38:49.350]for each of us as individuals so far.
[00:38:51.720]And we have been thinking about the question
[00:38:53.280]of reimagining the American dream.
[00:38:55.410]Could all of you please talk on your aspirations
[00:38:58.470]or dreams for the next generation of migrants and refugees?
I'm gonna answer.
[00:39:15.133]I think the biggest like reimagination
[00:39:18.030]that I have is for the other immigrants and refugees
[00:39:22.320]that are living here to not have to consistently explain
[00:39:25.260]who they are, where on the map they're from.
[00:39:27.900]Like that alone is a big one.
[00:39:30.240]Or it's like if you do know where we are on the map,
[00:39:32.700]I wish that that the only reason for that wouldn't be
[00:39:35.400]because a war, yeah,
[00:39:38.370]which is what Tut had just said.
[00:39:40.890]'Cause that's a pretty hard one.
[00:39:42.210]Before 2014 when I told people I was Ukrainian,
[00:39:45.450]they were like, "Is that a part of Russia?"
[00:39:47.490]And I'd be like, "No." (laughs)
[00:39:50.700]I mean, some people think it is, but no. (laughs)
[00:39:55.080]And then after 2014 people kind of knew where it was.
[00:39:57.780]But I wish that everyone,
[00:40:03.540]all immigrants, all refugees,
[00:40:05.040]like, baseline, people know where you're from, right?
[00:40:09.090]They're not asking you what continent that is.
[00:40:13.680]Another reimagination is that we wouldn't have refugees.
[00:40:16.590]That's, I mean,
[00:40:17.520]I don't want the American dream to apply to them.
[00:40:20.130]Like, the people who come here should wanna come here.
[00:40:21.960]They shouldn't have to be forced to come here.
[00:40:24.090]So that's the number one thing:
[00:40:26.374]my reimagination of the American dream
[00:40:27.835]is that it only applies to immigrants.
[00:40:29.520]Refugees aren't a thing.
[00:40:31.350]They don't have to think about it, you know?
[00:40:34.222]'Cause that shouldn't be,
[00:40:35.580]at least in our imaginations, right?
[00:40:42.750]I absolutely agree with what you were saying, Anna.
[00:40:44.880]And I think furthermore,
[00:40:47.580]I hope that immigrants and refugees as a whole are able
[00:40:50.970]to kind of define their stories
[00:40:52.890]in the way they want to push it out into the world.
[00:40:57.630]And it's not something to be ashamed of.
[00:40:59.550]And immigrants and refugees are like welcomed
[00:41:01.950]and kind of seen as like another functioning member
[00:41:06.180]of society, not like a charity case
[00:41:08.310]or like someone that you like helped save, so to speak.
[00:41:11.850]I've always been kind of, like, ashamed,
[00:41:15.300]not ashamed but, like, something I didn't wanna talk about,
[00:41:18.210]that I was an immigrant,
[00:41:19.710]and then I obviously became more proud of my culture
[00:41:22.590]and my heritage and where I'm from.
[00:41:24.330]But now in college I feel like it's kind of back
[00:41:27.570]because when I tell people where I'm from,
[00:41:29.580]it's always like, I mean, everyone kind of experiences this
[00:41:32.520]if they're immigrant, like, "Where are you really from?"
[00:41:34.200]And I have to tell them like,
[00:41:36.600]yeah, I'm from Lincoln but I was born in this country
[00:41:39.600]but I'm not from this country, I'm from this country.
[00:41:41.932]And like, you know, you have to tell your whole life story
[00:41:43.497]in, like, two minutes.
[00:41:44.760]But that gave people an excuse to,
[00:41:48.420]like, see me as an outsider.
[00:41:49.680]And most of the time people don't even ask where I'm from.
[00:41:52.170]They automatically assume that I'm an international student.
[00:41:55.320]And international students are a valuable part
[00:41:57.540]of our community here and their experiences are just
[00:42:00.570]so much more different than mine are,
[00:42:02.190]so I can't claim that and I don't wanna be lumped in
[00:42:04.770]just because I look like I'm not from here.
[00:42:07.740]And it's usually people who aren't from Lincoln.
[00:42:09.210]So I'm like, I feel like I'm more from Lincoln than you are
[00:42:11.610]so I don't know like why I feel like an outsider.
[00:42:15.240]But I should be able to kind of shape my story
[00:42:19.530]and be able to be proud and just like I'm a US citizen
[00:42:24.480]and I should be able to be feel proud that I'm an American
[00:42:26.850]but just like my story's different
[00:42:28.320]than natural born citizens.
[00:42:29.880]And I think that America has a lot of work to go
[00:42:34.290]before immigrants kind of feel safe
[00:42:35.880]and comfortable feeling like functioning members of society.
[00:42:42.930]I think for me,
[00:42:47.370]I know, this is probably, like, super complicated,
[00:42:51.330]but I wish that there was hopefully more immigration reform.
[00:42:56.280]I think that the immigration laws in place
[00:42:59.490]in the US are just not meant for people,
[00:43:03.690]they're very inhumane.
[00:43:04.770]And I think there hasn't been an immigration law
[00:43:09.990]and immigration reform within 40 years.
[00:43:13.290]That's a really long time.
[00:43:15.000]You know, and they're not current with, like,
[00:43:16.860]what people are going through now.
[00:43:19.020]So I wish that is something that would be addressed
[00:43:22.620]because I think you can welcome people,
[00:43:26.600]and that is a really good thing.
[00:43:27.600]But also if you aren't giving them,
[00:43:29.940]you know, legal statuses or like the ability to work,
[00:43:34.560]drive and actually do the things that they need to do,
[00:43:37.590]then you just are also like,
[00:43:43.230]it's not enough, if that makes sense.
[00:43:44.820]You just can't welcome 'em.
[00:43:45.660]You have to think about long-term solutions.
[00:43:49.140]And kind of what everybody else said,
[00:43:50.730]I also hope that everyone,
[00:43:52.860]every immigrant/refugee is able to be seen for who they are.
[00:43:57.360]You know, for immigrants it's more,
[00:43:59.940]for both immigrants and refugees,
[00:44:01.530]you're more than, you know, what you're able to provide
[00:44:03.420]for this country, the job you're willing to take.
[00:44:05.550]And for refugee, you know,
[00:44:07.050]you're more than the conflict back home.
[00:44:09.150]You know, I hope that we'd start to shift society
[00:44:12.420]into like really looking at people for who they are, right?
[00:44:15.360]And not like necessarily just what they're able to do
[00:44:18.840]and, you know, where they're coming from
[00:44:21.840]in terms of like conflict back home or something.
[00:44:27.180]A hope that I have is immigrants or refugees
[00:44:31.230]to tell their story in a way that embodies them.
[00:44:36.360]Whether it's through music, art, speaking, dance.
[00:44:43.410]People call America a melting pot.
[00:44:44.940]I don't like that, I like a salad.
[00:44:48.660]got the croutons,
[00:44:49.493]got the tomatoes and whatnot, banana peppers.
[00:44:51.630]But bring your culture, your ethnicity here,
[00:44:59.336]'cause I think America is a house
[00:45:00.810]but you get to make it a home, right?
[00:45:04.200]So bring the special things that, you know
[00:45:08.580]that are from your culture, your ethnicity,
[00:45:11.550]whether it's food, tradition, dance, traditional garments.
[00:45:17.670]Because I don't know where I'd be
[00:45:20.040]if I didn't have Chinese food.
[00:45:21.390]The globalization of America has allowed for all of us
[00:45:24.360]to really enjoy all these different,
[00:45:30.240]all these different countries into one solid United States.
[00:45:36.000]That's what I really want folks to do.
[00:45:38.490]Don't hide who you are.
[00:45:41.400]Embody who you are, be proud of who you are.
[00:45:44.070]You are standing on the shoulders of giants.
[00:45:46.980]So don't hold that back.
[00:45:48.750]Speak your language.
[00:45:49.740]Teach people how to speak your language,
[00:45:51.960]bring your food, invite people to your home.
[00:45:55.140]So that's one hope that I have:
[00:45:57.870]don't be afraid of who you are.
[00:46:00.720]Yeah, and in terms of reimagining,
[00:46:02.580]I think the thing that I'm really excited about
[00:46:04.950]that people are doing a lot more
[00:46:06.540]is embracing your immigrant history
[00:46:09.990]even if you are like a little bit far removed from that.
[00:46:12.690]Even if it's your grandfather or your grandmother,
[00:46:16.140]like focus on that culture.
[00:46:17.580]I think that sometimes people have this idea that like,
[00:46:20.497]"Oh, I can't do that.
[00:46:21.780]You know, maybe I don't know fully about it,
[00:46:24.150]or like I have all these other countries."
[00:46:25.440]Embrace all the countries then.
[00:46:27.000]If when I ask you where your family is from,
[00:46:28.740]you tell me a bunch of countries,
[00:46:30.840]say it proud and loud.
[00:46:33.330]You know what I mean?
[00:46:34.163]I think people, and white people especially,
[00:46:36.810]when you ask them like,
[00:46:38.951]"Oh okay, like what's your heritage?" They're like, "Oh"-
[00:46:41.190]Tell me where you're from.
[00:46:42.023]Yeah, tell me where you're from, I wanna hear it.
[00:46:44.400]And I don't care if someone maybe told you that,
[00:46:47.932]you know, you shouldn't be proud of that
[00:46:48.900]or that it's not interesting enough or whatever.
[00:46:53.880]Or that, you know, you're from the UK
[00:46:55.350]and you're also from this place,
[00:46:57.180]because that's how we make it a more welcoming place
[00:46:58.980]for all immigrants.
[00:47:00.480]Like, you cannot start from a place
[00:47:02.520]where the people who are American
[00:47:05.310]in this country don't wanna be proud
[00:47:07.620]of their own connection to immigration
[00:47:09.930]and don't wanna claim that and enjoy that
[00:47:11.640]just for yourselves.
[00:47:12.870]And honestly you'll probably be a lot happier anyway.
[00:47:15.630]Like, there is nothing that will provide you with more joy
[00:47:17.910]than embracing your heritage.
[00:47:20.670]And even if that isn't through your parents
[00:47:22.770]or your grandparents,
[00:47:24.360]like, we have so much access to information
[00:47:26.880]and you never know what aspect you'll learn about
[00:47:28.950]that will just make you feel like a flower that's blooming.
[00:47:36.120]I think Anna actually brought us to a really powerful point
[00:47:39.210]that we got a little bit of a reminder
[00:47:41.250]of in the land acknowledgement,
[00:47:42.450]which is that so many of us here today,
[00:47:44.790]if we're not indigenous, do come from immigrants
[00:47:47.580]and are from immigrants.
[00:47:48.540]Whether or not we identify with that is different.
[00:47:51.060]But unless you are indigenous,
[00:47:53.160]you probably come from immigrants.
[00:47:55.950]In thinking about the cultural heritage
[00:47:57.960]and the pride that all of you have with it,
[00:47:59.820]I did wanna ask you about the way that that looks different
[00:48:02.970]in your home countries versus here.
[00:48:05.250]And so thinking about that,
[00:48:07.170]could you maybe talk about your cultural heritage
[00:48:09.360]and how your personal understanding of it has changed
[00:48:12.000]now that you're in the United States
[00:48:13.410]or since your family's been in the United States?
[00:48:19.230]I think that this,
[00:48:20.790]I really like this question
[00:48:21.990]when we were looking at these beforehand
[00:48:23.430]'cause my cultural heritage
[00:48:26.880]and my journey through this has evolved
[00:48:28.710]so much since moving to the United States 14 years ago.
[00:48:34.020]Like I said before, I was born in the UAE,
[00:48:36.660]specifically in Dubai.
[00:48:37.620]Everyone knows where Dubai is, skyscrapers, money,
[00:48:40.650]like, nice cars, all of that.
[00:48:42.270]And even as a five-year-old and I moved here,
[00:48:43.980]I realized very quickly people knew where Dubai was,
[00:48:46.170]even children; they didn't know where Sudan was.
[00:48:48.900]So people ask me where you're from,
[00:48:50.790]and like back then, like, still learning English
[00:48:52.680]and things, I never said I was from Sudan.
[00:48:54.840]I would just say I was born in Dubai.
[00:48:56.100]I never told them I was from Dubai.
[00:48:57.660]I just let them come to their own conclusions,
[00:48:59.670]because it was a lot more glamorous
[00:49:02.220]to be from Dubai than it would be from Sudan.
[00:49:04.290]And it's a lot more digestible
[00:49:05.760]to be an immigrant from a developed first world country
[00:49:08.460]than it is from a third world country.
[00:49:11.310]And so I went through the shame for like a long time
[00:49:15.210]until 2014, which was the first time I went to Sudan
[00:49:18.210]since coming to the United States
[00:49:19.440]and eight years in general.
[00:49:21.630]Last time I went was two.
[00:49:22.680]So the people I knew and the family, I had,
[00:49:25.140]the language and the culture was all just,
[00:49:27.150]like, through a screen and through Skype
[00:49:29.460]and different things like that.
[00:49:31.260]And so when I finally experienced it
[00:49:32.940]and living in a multi-generational home
[00:49:34.680]with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins,
[00:49:36.600]it was like a daily sleepover.
[00:49:38.850]It was really like altering to my culture
[00:49:42.870]and, like, how proud I was about it.
[00:49:45.330]And when I went back home,
[00:49:47.190]came back to the US,
[00:49:48.340]like, was all I wanted to talk about.
[00:49:49.950]And I felt like a lot of grief for not being able
[00:49:51.960]to live with my family and always feeling so disconnected
[00:49:54.690]and I wouldn't see them again
[00:49:56.250]for another like two, three years.
[00:49:58.620]And I kind of went through that throughout high school
[00:50:01.920]and now throughout college.
[00:50:03.030]But when the war broke out in Sudan most recently,
[00:50:06.270]I realized very quickly that my culture
[00:50:08.820]and my heritage for my family at least,
[00:50:10.800]might start and end with me.
[00:50:14.010]I said this before because it's only my siblings
[00:50:16.290]and my parents and I, and we don't have extended family,
[00:50:18.750]It's kind of like, I forget my culture,
[00:50:20.610]I forget my language, my religion,
[00:50:22.440]like, it's over for my lineage, at least here in the US.
[00:50:27.450]I've always had, like, this fear that I'd have kids
[00:50:30.390]and they're gonna be like, oh yeah, my mom's from Sudan,
[00:50:32.430]but they're not gonna claim it for themselves,
[00:50:34.140]because it's so important for my parents and I,
[00:50:36.750]I mean, it's always something they've instilled in us
[00:50:38.670]since we were younger.
[00:50:40.504]I've wanted them make sure
[00:50:42.120]that I carry it onto the next generations.
[00:50:44.970]And I'm really glad of like this war,
[00:50:48.420]like, the one positive from it for me is it's made me
[00:50:51.180]so proud of my country and so proud of Sudanese people
[00:50:53.967]and their resilience as a whole.
[00:50:55.860]Because talk to anyone from Sudan, South Sudan,
[00:50:59.760]they're very proud and very,
[00:51:03.990]proud is kind of the only word that can come to mind,
[00:51:06.090]being from that country and surviving what they've survived
[00:51:09.690]or knowing people who have survived back home.
[00:51:12.810]And so I think that my cultural heritage has strengthened
[00:51:16.470]as I've stayed in the US for longer.
[00:51:23.818]So I'm from a really small town in central Nebraska
[00:51:27.660]and it kind of, you know, it wasn't diverse at all.
[00:51:31.260]So when I was younger there was kind of this fear
[00:51:33.600]of standing out,
[00:51:34.860]especially because my family weren't US citizens.
[00:51:37.740]So I thought, you know, if I stood out there I had this fear
[00:51:41.490]of like my family being found out
[00:51:43.320]and they would look at us negatively.
[00:51:45.840]So for a really long time when I was younger
[00:51:48.420]I really distanced myself from, you know,
[00:51:50.880]my Mexican heritage and I thought, you know,
[00:51:53.550]if I eat the same foods as everybody else in my class,
[00:51:56.730]if I spoke perfect English, if I wasn't an ESL,
[00:52:00.690]like I wouldn't be different from anybody.
[00:52:04.980]And I think that I saw that as a protection
[00:52:06.840]for myself and my family.
[00:52:10.020]And it wasn't until I was older, probably in high school,
[00:52:12.540]that I took a lot of strength in my identity
[00:52:16.560]and I realized, you know,
[00:52:17.850]there's nothing wrong with the choice,
[00:52:19.890]you know, like my family coming here.
[00:52:22.770]And I saw it in the way that showed up,
[00:52:23.807]'cause when I was younger, when I was like in ESL,
[00:52:26.910]they were like, "Don't speak English."
[00:52:29.070]But when I was in high school and I had to take English,
[00:52:31.170]everyone's like, "Oh you're so cool
[00:52:32.370]because you can speak Spanish already."
[00:52:36.510]So I think that when I was younger I went through this phase
[00:52:39.840]where I distanced myself,
[00:52:40.860]and I think I did myself a disservice
[00:52:42.330]because when I was younger I was like,
[00:52:44.610]when you're younger you just pick up
[00:52:45.780]from your family a lot more,
[00:52:46.860]and because I kind of rejected it, I think I missed out.
[00:52:50.610]And as I've gotten older,
[00:52:51.750]I'm just slowly finding myself going back to that
[00:52:55.260]and making myself, you know, back to my heritage.
[00:52:58.590]And I'm thankful that I came to that conclusion
[00:53:01.920]really early on.
[00:53:02.790]And I learned that, you know,
[00:53:06.090]being an immigrant isn't a bad thing at all.
[00:53:08.850]So yeah, I went through this kind of this phase
[00:53:10.410]where I rejected it
[00:53:11.243]and now I'm slowly finding myself way back to it.
[00:53:20.220]I think that my identity, especially when you're a kid,
[00:53:23.850]it was definitely conceptualized
[00:53:24.960]through the American imagination of like, what is Russia,
[00:53:28.260]what is Ukraine, what is Eastern Europe.
[00:53:31.440]So I remember,
[00:53:34.406]and a big part of that was also like when I had moved here,
[00:53:36.660]my parents had just moved here
[00:53:37.890]so they were learning English.
[00:53:39.000]So we were speaking English at home to practice, right?
[00:53:40.980]And also I was in ESL
[00:53:42.420]so I needed to practice my English too.
[00:53:44.580]ESL gang rise up, right?
[00:53:46.260]It was so fun.
[00:53:48.030]ESL has some power, you know,
[00:53:49.920]like that's a place
[00:53:51.180]where you really see some great international bonds,
[00:53:55.200]'cause no one understands an immigrant like an immigrant,
[00:53:58.860]And that's like, you know, spiritually,
[00:54:00.570]but also just language wise.
[00:54:03.090]Like an immigrant has some broken English,
[00:54:05.520]but it doesn't matter, right?
[00:54:07.500]We all understand each other.
[00:54:08.430]So that's beautiful, but regardless (laughs).
[00:54:12.540]So a lot of my childhood was spent like watching movies
[00:54:18.360]and every single time, you know,
[00:54:20.040]we didn't have a Ukrainian per se,
[00:54:22.050]but we had a guy with an Eastern European accent vaguely.
[00:54:25.200]And I was like, that's me, right?
[00:54:26.850]He was a spy, he was tough.
[00:54:29.610]And me and my cousins would always play spies
[00:54:31.800]for that reason.
[00:54:33.060]Sorry you guys, we love America, I promise.
[00:54:35.400]But we did play spies all the time when we were little
[00:54:37.890]because we were like, what else is a vaguely,
[00:54:40.680]you know, Eastern European person, right?
[00:54:44.700]And then as I grew a little bit older,
[00:54:45.990]I was like challenged with the stereotype
[00:54:47.460]of like mail-order brides.
[00:54:50.700]So that was a little bit more difficult,
[00:54:52.260]like being asked about that in middle school.
[00:54:55.290]Not the most fun thing.
[00:54:58.290]But back to the spy thing,
[00:54:59.220]like, that seemed kind of cool,
[00:55:00.600]but it's also like a little bit limiting.
[00:55:02.790]So I feel like when I was always imagining myself
[00:55:04.290]as an adult, I was like, I'm not gonna be that.
[00:55:06.990]So I guess FBI or CIA is like the option, right?
[00:55:09.600]We're not gonna go against the US. (laughs)
[00:55:12.930]So definitely like within that imagination.
[00:55:15.480]And then when I got to middle school,
[00:55:18.390]I started kind of like,
[00:55:19.440]when people were asking me where I was from,
[00:55:21.570]I wouldn't say like,
[00:55:23.880]I would say I'm Ukrainian.
[00:55:25.110]And then they would ask me like what language I speak,
[00:55:26.790]and I'm a Russian speaking Ukrainian.
[00:55:29.010]And then they would be like,
[00:55:29.857]"Okay, so that means like you're Russian," right?
[00:55:34.860]Language colonialism's a thing, right?
[00:55:36.930]And so in middle school I really started claiming that,
[00:55:39.240]and I was like, I'm Ukrainian.
[00:55:41.370]I would get mad, you know,
[00:55:43.770]'cause you wanna claim it.
[00:55:44.970]And then the war started
[00:55:45.990]and it was just even more of a thing.
[00:55:48.810]But still I felt like Ukrainianness
[00:55:52.110]was a little bit separated because it was over there
[00:55:55.320]and we weren't able to go home super often.
[00:55:59.430]So when I went to Ukraine for the first time
[00:56:03.120]in over 10 years, right before my freshman year at UNL.
[00:56:07.170]And it was so amazing.
[00:56:08.880]I spent six weeks there.
[00:56:10.740]I went to museums and I met my family.
[00:56:14.880]Like, I had known them when I was a child, right?
[00:56:16.770]But it had been so long.
[00:56:18.330]And Skype is not a way to meet a person. (laughs)
[00:56:21.990]So I really met my family and my culture
[00:56:25.170]and I got to speak a lot of Russian
[00:56:27.510]'cause at the time the area was still Russian speaking
[00:56:30.450]and learn a little bit of Ukrainian
[00:56:31.980]and it was just like such an amazing experience.
[00:56:34.020]And I really conceptualized my identity in a Ukrainian way
[00:56:37.950]but also in an American way
[00:56:40.440]because we had this idea of like independence
[00:56:43.290]and like being your own person.
[00:56:45.180]And I think that that idea
[00:56:46.590]of American is like about yourself was so helpful for me
[00:56:51.420]because it reminded me
[00:56:53.040]that I controlled the way I conceptualized my identity,
[00:56:56.280]and that was really big.
[00:56:57.750]And then I came here, and my second semester
[00:57:00.900]of freshman year the invasion started pretty early on
[00:57:04.050]and ironically enough,
[00:57:05.790]the semester before I was like, "I'm gonna get on this.
[00:57:08.280]I'm gonna learn even more how to read and write in Russian."
[00:57:12.210]And so I was in a Russian class
[00:57:13.680]when the war started online here.
[00:57:16.975](laughs) So that was a little tough
[00:57:19.590]because I was like, okay,
[00:57:20.790]I'm learning Russian, I'm gonna do this.
[00:57:23.040]And then all my family back home was like,
[00:57:24.637]"Nah, we're switching to Ukrainian,
[00:57:26.160]we're reclaiming that culture. (laughs)
[00:57:29.220]But, you know, it's a little easier now I guess for me
[00:57:33.390]in terms of relearning.
[00:57:35.220]But yeah, I think like cultural heritage
[00:57:37.230]because I'm in the US
[00:57:38.820]the way I perceived being Ukrainian was always
[00:57:41.100]about the US and about the American imagination.
[00:57:45.540]But that wasn't entirely negative
[00:57:47.520]because that American imagination
[00:57:49.770]and the idea of the individual is what helped me realize
[00:57:52.410]that I control my identity.
[00:57:54.090]And I couldn't have done that without,
[00:57:56.550]you know, American ideals and conceptualizations, for sure.
[00:58:01.950]Okay, growing up.
[00:58:03.600]So this was kind of tough.
[00:58:05.550]So I came over around two years old.
[00:58:09.210]So we lived in Dallas.
[00:58:10.560]So both my parents and I only speak one language,
[00:58:15.450]and that's Thok Naath, the Nuer tribe.
[00:58:17.460]So we're trying to obviously navigate
[00:58:21.780]living this American lifestyle
[00:58:24.300]while not knowing, so I had to be a translator young, right?
[00:58:27.930]So that we move to a place where I'm the only African kid
[00:58:31.380]in class or even school,
[00:58:33.330]and then having to learn how to fit in.
[00:58:37.710]And that's hard
[00:58:38.543]when you are the only African kid in your class
[00:58:42.780]and you don't know English.
[00:58:45.660]So it's tough, right?
[00:58:47.100]So I'm trying to fit in.
[00:58:49.590]So there's a lot of times where I felt ashamed of who I was.
[00:58:53.850]So I would kind of just try and speak as much English
[00:58:59.070]as I could even at home
[00:59:01.380]so it would also help my parents
[00:59:02.880]but to also make me feel welcome to the other,
[00:59:06.150]you know, the kids in school.
[00:59:07.620]when I would hang out with the African Americans,
[00:59:09.750]they'd be like, "You're not like us.
[00:59:13.260]But the white people told me that I am like you.
[00:59:16.950]I am confused they called me African,
[00:59:19.530]but I'm like, "So are you
[00:59:21.930]but you speak a different language."
[00:59:23.220]So that was tough.
[00:59:24.360]So I wanted to be with people that looked like me,
[00:59:27.420]but I spoke a different language so I would shun it.
[00:59:29.060]If my mom called me,
[00:59:30.120]I would walk away and speak my own language
[00:59:32.400]'cause I don't want them,
[00:59:33.750]you know, kind of making fun of me.
[00:59:35.970]So I think,
[00:59:37.590]and then when we moved from San Diego
[00:59:39.900]to Gallatin, Tennessee, was when I kind of went
[00:59:43.830]through this rebellious stage as a teenager,
[00:59:47.416]like we all did.
[00:59:49.470]I didn't wanna speak my own language.
[00:59:52.320]Hip-hop was a thing.
[00:59:53.460]50 Cent, I was all the way in hip-hop.
[00:59:57.750]So I'm like okay, I'm trying to be immersed in this,
[00:59:59.850]I'm trying to be one of the guys.
[01:00:02.730]And then the rebellious stage kind of fell off.
[01:00:06.544]I was cool enough to be on the sports teams
[01:00:08.880]and then I started to realize, okay, my culture is dope.
[01:00:13.230]Let me learn more about, you know, my culture.
[01:00:15.480]We'd go to these weddings,
[01:00:16.620]we'd go to these baby showers,
[01:00:19.350]I'd learn my traditional dances,
[01:00:21.390]learn how to,
[01:00:24.030]not cook, my mom wouldn't let me do that.
[01:00:28.350]But it was the importance of knowing my roots.
[01:00:31.140]And when you know your roots,
[01:00:32.190]you could stand tall and be proud of who you are.
[01:00:34.890]And now that as I get older I can teach my siblings that,
[01:00:39.180]but I can teach other people my culture,
[01:00:42.630]because when I think about it,
[01:00:44.430]we were pretty much like the lottery, just like you said.
[01:00:49.950]Not many people from where I come from
[01:00:52.107]and my lineage have been in America.
[01:00:55.260]So it's also being like I'm going to represent my tribe,
[01:00:59.820]my family and understanding the importance of that
[01:01:03.780]for the future of our kids, you know?
[01:01:07.110]So I think that's important,
[01:01:08.310]so whatever culture you have, please represent it.
[01:01:11.700]You don't know how long it's gonna be,
[01:01:13.110]so it's important that you do show everybody
[01:01:16.410]where you're from, what language you speak,
[01:01:18.300]kind of clothes you rock,
[01:01:19.770]what kind of food you cook, so yeah.
[01:01:25.380]Thank you so much.
[01:01:26.670]I think it's such beautiful thing
[01:01:30.090]to be able to hear about the different expressions
[01:01:32.280]of cultural heritage
[01:01:34.080]in the way that so many of us came from a place
[01:01:37.470]of kind of going full circle, right?
[01:01:39.300]We grew up loving our heritage,
[01:01:41.580]then shunted it because of outside pressures
[01:01:43.530]and then back to loving it,
[01:01:44.700]but this time with maybe more reclamation than before.
[01:01:48.090]We are coming to the end of the hour,
[01:01:49.530]which has gone by so fast for me.
[01:01:52.620]I don't know about y'all.
[01:01:53.760]So I have one last question for you today,
[01:01:56.850]and it has to do with this dialogue in full.
[01:02:00.390]So thank you for participating in the conversation with me.
[01:02:04.380]Is there one thing that you would like audience members
[01:02:06.660]to take away?
[01:02:07.493]Be it a resource, a reading recommendation,
[01:02:10.650]a call to action,
[01:02:12.300]something that hopefully does not leave this dialogue here
[01:02:15.300]but is just the first step to more action?
[01:02:23.573]Gimme some podcast.
[01:02:24.406]Yeah, I'm gonna give you some podcasts, 100%,
[01:02:27.314]'cause I love podcasts.
[01:02:28.770]First one, "#UkrainianSpaces."
[01:02:32.100]Listen up please,
[01:02:33.900]because I think the number one thing I want you
[01:02:35.640]to take away is that so much of our understanding of Ukraine
[01:02:39.270]in the West is from like Western experts,
[01:02:42.420]but their education while they are extremely educated
[01:02:45.480]is almost always centered on Russia.
[01:02:47.970]And you should not be learning about Ukrainians
[01:02:50.220]from people who their entire, you know,
[01:02:52.050]education has been Russia class after Russia class.
[01:02:55.950]You just can't conceptualize who we are through that lens.
[01:02:59.010]So "#UkrainianSpaces" on everything, great podcast.
[01:03:02.310]And then "The Fire In These Times" has amazing podcasts
[01:03:05.640]on so many places,
[01:03:06.930]but their two ones on Ukraine are just so right.
[01:03:10.620]And then the last thing before I give this mic away
[01:03:12.300]is give us military aid and keep us alive
[01:03:15.150]because Russia will definitely kill us
[01:03:16.980]if we do not have military aid.
[01:03:18.690]And I need y'all to hear that, 100%.
[01:03:26.460]I think one thing to take away
[01:03:27.840]is to definitely familiarize yourself with immigration
[01:03:32.280]and immigration law.
[01:03:34.200]I think that it's probably the most complex law there is
[01:03:38.670]except tax law.
[01:03:42.210]And if like you can find the two that's even harder.
[01:03:44.280]So like learn about immigration law.
[01:03:45.990]I think they were talking about like that Diversity Visa,
[01:03:50.850]and it sounds so crazy to hear but that's something
[01:03:53.730]that you should be aware of because it's a system
[01:03:55.890]that needs to be updated and changed,
[01:03:57.960]and it can't be changed
[01:03:59.250]or updated if you don't know about it.
[01:04:00.930]I think most oftentimes when you talk to immigrants
[01:04:03.360]and they tell you, you know,
[01:04:05.100]why don't you do this or why don't you do this?
[01:04:06.630]It's like they probably have tried,
[01:04:08.670]but it's just the way that things are set up.
[01:04:10.080]So I think definitely learn about immigration,
[01:04:13.590]like learn how it works, what laws are in place
[01:04:17.370]and really become an advocate
[01:04:19.740]if you're not yourself an immigrant,
[01:04:21.270]like stand up because this is your country,
[01:04:23.940]like you can make change.
[01:04:25.620]And not everyone has the ability to vote, right?
[01:04:28.410]So stand up for the people who can't.
[01:04:30.570]I think a really great resource to look at
[01:04:32.520]is United We Dream,
[01:04:35.070]they're a youth group,
[01:04:35.910]the largest undocumented youth group in the US.
[01:04:38.730]The National Immigration Law Center
[01:04:41.040]has really great resources.
[01:04:42.630]And then I think here if you are a UNL student
[01:04:45.960]or you live in Lincoln,
[01:04:48.330]you should really learn about Define American.
[01:04:51.030]It's a group on campus that tries to be an advocate
[01:04:54.030]and build community for immigrants, undocumented students.
[01:04:58.290]And it's a really good place to go
[01:05:00.240]to learn about immigration
[01:05:02.010]and to be in community with students
[01:05:04.260]that can tell you, like, firsthand experiences
[01:05:06.060]of what that's like.
[01:05:08.069]So yeah, definitely that.
[01:05:08.902]So United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center
[01:05:12.870]and then Define American at UNL.
[01:05:18.930]I love that you stated resources here on campus
[01:05:22.140]because I do think the resources
[01:05:25.020]and the people and the platforms are here
[01:05:26.820]and they're willing to talk and engage.
[01:05:29.550]They're just not asked or they're not acknowledged.
[01:05:32.970]I think that my biggest thing that I want people
[01:05:36.000]to kind of act on is immigrants and children
[01:05:38.070]of immigrants should not be the only ones who care
[01:05:39.720]about immigrants and immigration.
[01:05:41.940]Even if you don't have any personal connection
[01:05:44.760]with immigration, migration, refugees
[01:05:47.700]I think it's still very crucial that you do your research
[01:05:51.960]and look at things online but also engage with those who are
[01:05:55.230]and talk about what they're going through.
[01:05:57.480]We all talked about our experiences of being from countries
[01:06:00.210]that are going through war,
[01:06:01.320]but even countries that don't have war going on
[01:06:04.380]in them currently, their stories are crucial
[01:06:06.210]and their immigrants are crucial to the United States
[01:06:08.850]and it's existence and functioning.
[01:06:12.480]I'm also gonna plug the podcast
[01:06:15.150]that Anna talked about, "Fire of These Times."
[01:06:16.560]They have an episode on Sudan,
[01:06:18.300]it's called "Sudan's Revolution and War,"
[01:06:19.947]and I think it's pretty recent.
[01:06:21.900]It kind of outlines the history of Sudan
[01:06:24.960]'cause everything that's happening right now is connected
[01:06:27.840]to the historical and political economic context
[01:06:30.360]of Sudan and South Sudan as a whole.
[01:06:32.610]But yeah, I just think that it's crucial for everyone
[01:06:36.870]regardless of their citizenship status
[01:06:40.470]and their existence here in the US
[01:06:43.470]to be aware of immigration and its impacts
[01:06:45.780]and the stories of immigrants
[01:06:47.310]because they make such a big part of our community,
[01:06:49.680]even here in Lincoln.
[01:06:50.820]And I think Tut mentioned earlier that Lincoln is a refugee
[01:06:54.930]and immigrant, like, safe haven,
[01:06:56.130]so we do have a lot of that population.
[01:06:58.561]And I think that it's pretty easy to engage
[01:07:00.120]with them if you put in the work and the effort.
[01:07:04.950]I challenge you all to do the citizenship test.
[01:07:11.460]I wanna see what you guys score 'cause it is tough.
[01:07:16.650]That's one way you can learn just about this place
[01:07:18.930]and what immigrants and refugees have to pass
[01:07:22.830]in order to be a citizen of this land.
[01:07:26.970]The one thing that I want to,
[01:07:29.520]a book, it's called "The Nuer,"
[01:07:31.140]which is part of my tribe, The N-U-E-R,
[01:07:34.620]by E. E. Evans-Pritchard.
[01:07:36.690]Talks about our tribe, how we've been for centuries,
[01:07:42.210]how we've lived off the land and whatnot.
[01:07:45.930]So you can learn more about where I'm from.
[01:07:48.720]I don't have any podcast recommendations,
[01:07:50.790]but yeah, that's all I can do.
[01:07:53.790]And if you have any questions, holler at your boy.
[01:07:56.730]Same, I will answer questions.
[01:07:58.410]You should also follow these amazing people on Instagram
[01:08:00.960]if they're willing to say their Instagrams.
[01:08:02.910]Mine is, I'm also gonna shamelessly plug my Insta
[01:08:05.640]'cause I'm always posting about Ukraine
[01:08:07.350]and amazing resources.
[01:08:09.840]In my opinion they're amazing resources.
[01:08:11.730]So it's just my name at Anna Synya.
[01:08:14.610]Should be easy to find. (laughs)
[01:08:16.410]Are we doing it on Instagram?
[01:08:18.270]If you guys want to, if you wanna plug your Instagram.
[01:08:22.280]My Instagram is hello_dulce.
[01:08:26.790]If you send me DM I will answer, but sometimes I get scared
[01:08:30.060]so it might take me a second to answer.
[01:08:33.840]My Instagram, its itztheking, itztheking.
[01:08:38.850]Also, follow my podcast,
[01:08:42.097]"Blazin' a trail podcast," check it out.
[01:08:46.826]And my Instagram is my first and last name, Reem Ahmed.
[01:08:49.560]But between the R and the E there's a dot
[01:08:51.960]'cause it's a very popular name, but.
[01:08:55.890]Thank you so much.
[01:08:57.930]My little shout out is I recently found out a few days ago,
[01:09:00.540]there is gonna be an English 333 class
[01:09:03.270]called Literature of Migrants.
[01:09:05.430]So if there's any UNL students in the audience,
[01:09:07.860]you might wanna look into that.
[01:09:10.290]I also wanna say coming to panels such as these,
[01:09:13.860]taking the opportunity to meet people besides stereotypes
[01:09:17.250]or news productions is the fastest way
[01:09:20.520]to learn about refugees and migrants.
[01:09:23.790]So with that in mind,
[01:09:24.930]I would like to thank
[01:09:25.950]the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues
[01:09:28.020]for having this event,
[01:09:29.760]Rebecca Baskerville and Natalie Hole
[01:09:31.590]for being the superheroes
[01:09:32.580]behind the curtain that aren't up here,
[01:09:34.980]and the panelists for coming out
[01:09:36.780]and sharing the story beautifully with us tonight.
[01:09:39.000]And then all of you,
[01:09:40.200]thank you so much for attending this event.
[01:09:42.120]Thank you for taking the time to learn,
[01:09:43.620]and I hope that it continues after tonight.
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