2010

Interviews Conducted in 2010
Number of Interview: LFF-3.00

Date: June 14, 2010
Name: Dr. Cheema
Gender: Male
Date of Birth:
Country of Origin: Pakistan
Year of Immigration: 1950?

Abstract:  Dr. Mohammad Aslam Cheema immigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago in order to attend medical school.  Due to the lack of a Muslim and Pakistani community, Dr. Cheema and his wife cultivated a cultural community of their own.  Dr. Cheema hoped to return to Pakistan with the intention of creating specialized medical units in hospitals.  Due to inadequate support, supplies, and trained personnel, Dr. Cheema was unable to establish his goal of better medical care in Pakistan.  Dr. Cheema returned to Milwaukee where he was instrumental in expanding the Muslim and Pakistani community.  Dr. Cheema’s story reveals the beginning history of the Milwaukee Muslim community and highlights the experiences of early Muslims who immigrated to the United States.
Key Themes:: Pakistan, Chicago in the 1940s, early Muslim communities, Elijah Muhammad, medical school, establishing communities, Muslim-American interaction, creation of ISM, Muslim history in America.
Number of Interview: AM 1.00

Date: October 7, 2010
Name: Joe Makshoof
Gender: Male

Date of Birth: 1938

Country of Origin: Palestine, Jerusalem

Year of Immigration: 1962

Abstract: In 1962, at the age of 22, Joe Makshoof emigrated from Jerusalem, Palestine to the United States in order to attend Marquette University.  As he settled into Milwaukee, he helped his family immigrate to the United States.  Joe stresses the importance of being actively engaged in the community, especially joining organizations that serve both American and Arab interests.  Joe is involved in the following organizations:  Council for National Interests (CNI), the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC), and his local parish.  Joe Makshoof encourages Arabs to build alliances with other Americans by becoming more accepting of other cultures and simultaneously work on clarifying misconceptions of Arabs.
Number of Interview: LFF-1.00

Date: June 10, 2010
Name: Ibtisam

Gender: Female

Date of Birth: August 15, 1956
Country of Origin: Palestine
Year of Immigration: 1966

Abstract: Ibtisam Ahmad’s interview provides insight into a woman born in Palestine, who moved to the United States at a very young age. The interview expresses her keen attachment to Palestine while maintaining strong civic involvement in her local American political system. She is an active member of the Muslim-American community. She continually stresses the importance of religion and education in her life and in the life of her family, articulating keenly, what some might call the Palestinian-Muslim understanding of the “American Creed”. The interview is a prime example of the strong Palestinian woman who embraces both cultural traditions from her “homeland” and the progress and opportunity of her new American home.  Her stories about how she learned the English language, the values she instills in her children, her view of American education is compelling for anyone interested in immigration history. This is an excellent interview highlighting a strong, active woman who identifies herself as a Muslim Palestinian-American woman.

KEY THEMES: Palestine, education, young marriage, 9/11, respect, raising children.
Number of Interview: LFF-5.00

Date: July 13, 2010
Name: Tina

Date of Birth:  1973
Country of Origin: Pakistan
Year of Immigration: 1978

Abstract: Tina’s interview provided insight into a woman who was born in Pakistan, but raised primarily in the United States.  Tina delves into details of trying to forge an identity from two different cultures.  The interviewee also chronicles her mother’s life story, the spouse of another interviewee, Dr. Ahmad (see LFF-3.00).  Tina explains her mother’s influence on her education along with her mother’s determination to maintain cultural ties to Pakistan while living in the United States.
Key Themes: Pakistan, education, mother-daughter relationship, early Pakistani community,  medical school and Pakistani culture, cultural tensions, family values.
Number of Interview: MAM 4.1

Date: June 17, 2010
Name: Naeema Mohammad
Gender: Female
Date of Birth: 1967
Country of Origin: West Bank, Palestine
Year of Immigration: 1984

Abstract: Naema Mohammad came to the United States in order to reside with her spouse   who lived in Milwaukee, WI.  The interviewee did not plan on returning to her homeland but reflected she would have liked to have raised her children there.  Naema dedicated her life to raising her six children, one of whom is entering college.  Naema felt that her life conditions had not changed since moving to the United States except for the fact that there were more opportunities for socialization.  Language was a barrier for her; however, she was able to learn English from an American friend who was married to an Arab man.  Naema continues to identify herself as an Arab woman and finds way to connect to the culture through family contact, cultural events, and Arabic television.
Key Themes: language barrier, support of family/friends in assimilation, modern view of raising boys and girls, some worry about kids’ keeping values, motherhood, Arabic TV keeps her updated, maintenance of connection with her homeland/family.
Number of Interview: MAM 2.1

Date: June 9, 2010

Gender: Female
Name: Anonymous

Date of Birth: 1966
Country of Origin: Saffa, Palestine
Year of Immigration: 1985

Abstract:The interviewee chose to remain anonymous and will be referred to as “Sarah”.  Sarah was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia but relocated to Saida, Lebanon for seven years.  At the age of 18, she immigrated to the United States for better educational opportunities and resided in Milwaukee, WI.  Sarah graduated from UW-Milwaukee in 1990 and worked as an outreach worker.  Sarah got married and dedicated her life to raising her two sons who currently attend Salam School.  After her divorce, Sarah resumed her career as an outreach worker for the Latino Organization for Civic Action.  Although Sarah had originally hoped to return to her homeland after completing her education, she found that she enjoyed the life opportunities available to her in the United States and chose to continue to reside here instead.
Key Themes: Sarah’s independence, dealing with unfamiliar American practices, mentality about raising kids, identification with American culture, benefit of financial aid in the U.S.
Number of Interview:MAM 1.1

Date: June 9, 2010

Name: Anonymous
Gender: Female
Date of Birth: 1943
Country of Origin: Saffa, Palestine
Year of Immigration: 1987

Abstract: The interviewee chose to remain anonymous and will be referred to as “Areej”.  Areej initially came to the United States in order to be with her five children as they attended college.  During her stay, Areej enjoyed the lifestyle afforded in the United States and chose to remain here.  Although she had a difficult time adjusting to Wisconsin winters, it was important for her to remain near her family.  One of the freedoms Areej enjoyed in the United States was learning how to drive as this was not an option when she lived in Saudi Arabia.  Areej learned English by enrolling in classes at MATC.  Although she has lived in the Unites States for awhile, Areej identifies herself as a Palestinian.  When she compares the freedoms available to her in America versus other countries, Areej is grateful for the opportunities available in her adopted country.

Key Themes: learning to drive, Palestinian identity, Arab countries’ discrimination against Palestinians, political indifference, inability to visit her homeland, sadness about Palestinian occupation, happiness in the U.S.
Number of Interview: MAM 3.1

Date: June 12, 2010
Name: Anonymous
Gender: Female
Date of Birth: 1970
Country of Origin: Al-Bireh, Palestine
Year of Immigration: July 1, 1989

Abstract: The interviewee immigrated to the United States in 1989 after her marriage.  Her spouse promised her the opportunity to attend college as this was not feasible in Palestine in the midst of the Intifada.  Despite this promise, she did not enroll in college as her husband’s family discouraged it.  She instead helped her spouse complete a Master’s Degree which only provided “proof” to her husband’s family that she was dominating the marriage.  She endured domestic abuse and house confinement before deciding to initiate divorce.  As a result, she lost custody of her three children and did not receive any financial support.  After some difficult time, she returned to school and pursued a degree in nursing.  During the course of the first Gulf War, she experienced verbal harassment that was not addressed by the police department.  When the events of 9/11occurred, she found inner strength to defend herself from the public’s verbal harassment.

KEY THEMES: marriage, divorce and aftermath, work for education and employment, Intifada, first Gulf War in Iraq, defending her faith, Islamic community bias/slander, mixed feelings on identification with Palestinian heritage/Palestinian issues, media/TV bias and subliminal messages.
Number of Interview: AM 4.00

Date: October 21, 2010
Name: Khadijah Yaghnam
Gender: Female

Date of Birth: December 31st, 1954

Country of Origin: Palestine

Year of Immigration: 1987

Abstract: This interview was conducted with a first generation Arab-American. As a Palestinian, Khadijah experienced the 1967 war during which many Palestinians were displaced from their homes. It was then that Khadijah first migrated to Jordan and then in 1987 she came to the United States, and settled in Milwaukee two years later.  This is a heartfelt story about the struggles of a single mother raising her four daughters in a foreign land.  Khadijah discusses the sacrifices she made to come to the United States, her challenges adjusting to a new country and the obstacles she faced raising her daughters on her own. Khadijah stresses the importance of religion and culture in her life, which she also passed along to her daughters. This interview showcases a strong, independent and optimistic Muslim American woman.

Theme Key: Single mother, teacher, Al Nakba, education, importance of religion, independent woman.
Number of Interview: AM 5.00

Date: October 21, 2010

Name: Fehmi Yaghnam
Gender: Male

Date of Birth: 1946

Country of Origin: Palestine

Year of Immigration: 1976

Abstract: Fehmi Yaghnam is a first generation Arab-American who immigrated to the United States from Palestine. His story demonstrates the struggles he encountered to sustain himself and his family. Some of his struggles include his inability to practice and identify with his Muslim identity freely. After working in Denver for eleven years, Fehmi resettled in Milwaukee to be closer to his father and brother. Fehmi owned a small business in both Colorado and Milwaukee. While Fehmi would love to return to his homeland, he and his wife have a difficult time imagining life without their children and grandchildren. He believes it will be unlikely that he will ever return.

Key Themes: Discrimination at work, Palestine, small business owner, robbery, getting shot, Denver.
Number of Interview: JEA 1-1

Date: June 2010

Name: Anonymous
Gender: Female

Date of Birth: December 20, 1965

Country of Origin: Pakistan

Year of Immigration: 1986

Abstract: This interview was conducted with a woman whom we will call “Anaya” who immigrated to the United States twenty-four years ago. Anaya discusses the obstacles faced by immigrants and their struggle to form a new identity. Anaya recalls the process of immigration and describes her life in her adopted home country.

Key Themes: immigration process, relocation across United States, experiences after first coming to the United States.
Number of Interview: JEA 2-4

Date: September 6, 2010

Name: Anonymous
Gender: Female

Date of Birth: 1967

Country of Origin: India

Year of Immigration: 1990

Abstract: This interview was conducted with “Nadia”, an Indian born United States citizen. Nadia provides valuable insight on her identity, her desire to come to America, her role of being both a Muslim and an American. This interview sheds light on assimilation while maintaining individual identity.

Key Themes: identity, religion, role of being an American, parenting, education.
Number of Interview: JEA 2-2

Date: July 30, 2010

Name: Anonymous
Gender: Female

Date of Birth: August 4, 1991

Country of Origin: Pakistan

Year of Immigration: 1993

Abstract: This interview was completed with a young Pakistani born immigrant living in the United States. This interviewee addressed topics including her immigration to the United States, her assimilation into the American culture, racism she has faced and her pursuit of education. This interview is valuable because it informs the reader about the lives of young immigrants, the question of cultural identity and their endeavor to make America their home.

Key Themes: assimilation, immigration, education, politics, religion, involvement in community, and racism.
Number of Interview: JEA 2-3
Date: July 30, 2010
Name: Anonymous
Gender: Male
Date of Birth: December 25, 1962
Country of Origin: Pakistan
Year of Immigration: 1993

Abstract: This interview was completed with a Pakistani born immigrant living in the United States.  A translator was utilized during certain portions of this interview in order to clearly convey the thoughts of the participant.  This interviewee addressed his reasons for immigrating to the U.S., assimilation, religious opportunities, and her home village in Pakistan. This interview is insightful because it highlights the transition of a woman from a small village in Pakistan to her life in the United States.

Key Themes: education, village, children, Pakistan, economy, assimilation, cultural differences, parenting.
Number of Interview: LFF-6.00

Date: September 13, 2010
Name: Najoom
Gender: Male
Date of Birth:
Country of Origin:  Lebanon
Year of Family’s immigration: Born in U.S.

Abstract: Dennis Najoom’s interview provided insight into the life of a third-generation Arab Christian American. In the interview, Dennis discussed the lives of his mother, his father and growing up in New Jersey. He shared stories about relatives that illustrated the pressures they felt to assimilate, the relationships among the early Arab-Christian community, and his encounters with racism at school.  A key theme throughout his narrative is the importance of music to his family.
Key Themes: Greater Syria, early Arab immigration, early assimilation, music, Arab-Christian.
Number of Interview: AM 3.00

Date: October 14, 2010
Name: Robert Ashmore
Gender: Male

Date of Birth: 1936

Country of Origin: Lebanon and Syria

Year of Immigration: Born in U.S

Abstract: Robert Ashmore, Professor Emeritus at Marquette University, is a third generation Arab American.  Dr. Ashmore’s family is originally from Lebanon and Syria and immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s.  With Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Dr. Ashmore became compelled to join organizations that promoted human rights and justice.  He was instrumental in establishing organizations and lobby groups in Milwaukee that strengthened and increased the visibility of the Arab community.

Key Words: Political Activism, Israel invasion of 1982, Lebanon, Syria, ADC, AAUG, AAI, NAAA, Creation of ISM, establishing Arab community.
Number of Interview: LFF-4.00

Date: July 11, 2010
Name: Anonymous

Gender: Female
Date of Birth:  1980
Country of Origin: Pakistan
Year of Immigration: Born in the U.S.

Abstract: The interviewee chose to remain anonymous and will be referred to as “Iman”.  An exuberant and cheerful young woman, Iman explains her life growing up as a Muslim-Pakistani in the United States.  Iman’s interview provides a window into her large family and stresses the importance of family in her life. Iman completed a degree at Marquette University and plans to return to school in order to obtain her Masters in Business Administration.
Key Themes: Pakistan, teenage work, Muslim Student Association culture,  students life as a Muslim woman, Pakistani culture, religious organization involvement.
Number of Interview: AM 1.00

Date of Interview: October 5, 2010

Name: Anonymous
Gender: Female

Date of Birth: June 12, 1988

Country of Origin: Palestine

Abstract: The interviewee, a second generation Arab-American woman, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in psychology.  She defines herself as an independent woman, a Muslim American, and a Palestinian.   Growing up in Milwaukee,Her identity was influenced by her environment and experiences.  Her unique experiences helped to shape her identity and at times her experiences made certain aspects of her identity more prominent.

Key Words: Identity, newly wed, Graduate student, Palestinian-American, MAS Service Corp, MSA.
Number of Interview: MAM 5.1
Date: July 31, 2010
Name: Mirbet As’ad
Gender: Female
Date of Birth: 1972
Country of Origin: Nables, Palestine
Year of Immigration: 1993

Abstract:  Merbet As’ad immigrated to the United States from Palestine to live with her husband who was enrolled in school in Milwaukee, studying psychology.  In addition, Mervat wanted to leave her homeland because she was tired of witnessing the death and destruction surrounding her.  Merbet’s greatest challenge upon arriving in the United States was her limited English knowledge.  She befriended an American woman who taught her the language and Merbet taught her to knit and sew.  Merbet also learned to drive despite her spouse’s initial disapproval.  She decided to focus on raising her children before pursuing her dream of a nursing degree.  Merbet sought to raise her children with the same Islamic values her father taught her; however, she was distressed to find the community-wide religious conscience from her childhood absent in American culture.  Merbet is proud of her heritage as an Arab and a Muslim.  It is her hope that the Muslim community will help recent women immigrants learn English and find employment so they do not experience the same hardships she did.

Key themes: reminiscence on her childhood vs. her children’s childhood, suffering due to Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, dedicated motherhood, friendship with non-Muslim neighbors in first assimilation, learning to drive, influence of friends on her kids in school, Islamic values in children, conflict of Islamic values in daughter’s sports.
Number of Interview: LFF-2.00
Date: June 10, 2010
Name: Anonymous
Gender: Female
Date of Birth: 1979
Country of Origin: Bahrain
Year of Immigration: 2000

Abstract: This interview was completed with a doctor from Bahrain who is currently in the United States completing her medical residency.  This doctor is faced with the task of deciding to either remain in the United States or return to her homeland to practice medicine.  This interview sheds light on the struggles that many student-immigrants face upon completing their education of whether to return home or not.  The interviewee provides insight into her life as a young, modern, educated Middle Eastern woman.  Moreover, her story will resonate with those interested in student-immigrants, modern views of Islam, and the new global Muslim woman.

Key Themes: Bahrain, pending citizenship, medical degree, death, immigration, religion and modernity, spirituality, globalization.
Number of Interview: SMA 3.0
Date: August 13, 2010
Name: Safoora Kauser
Gender: Female
Date of Birth: 07/31/1960
Country of Origin: India
Year of Immigration: September 1979

Abstract: Safoora’s interview highlights the ways culture, religion, education, and career contributed to forming her identity.  Safoora discusses the compromises she made in order to balance her home and professional life.  At the age of eighteen, Safoora immigrated to the United States along with her mother and three brothers.  She resided in Chicago and earned a master’s degree in chemistry.  Safoora was offered a job in Milwaukee and relocated with her spouse.  Over the course of the interview, Safoora reiterated the importance of educating her children and the fact that her professional duties at times prevented her from being fully available to them.  Despite the demands on her time, she also stresses the importance of expressing her faith and religious values in her life.

Key themes: India, education, professional career, Ahmadi faith.
Number of Interview: SMA-1

Date: August 8, 2010
Name: Noreen Ahmed
Gender: Female
Date of Birth: 1972
Country of Origin: Pakistan
Date of Immigration: April 24, 1991

Abstract: Noreen immigrated to the United States from Pakistan at the age of nineteen after she married.  Due to her Ahmadi faith, Noreen recalls the constant harassment that she and her family endured at the hands of other religious sects in Pakistan.  In terms of her identity, Noreen identifies herself as a mother first, second as a Muslim, and finally as a Pakistani-American.  After arriving in the United States, Noreen had limited knowledge of the English language but received constant encouragement from others when she would attempt to communicate.  Noreen prides herself on the fact that she helps new immigrants settle in the area.  Noreen recognizes the importance of her actions as it encourages a positive image of Islam.  She believes that the good traits of a Muslim can be seen in their actions towards others.

Key Themes: immigration, settlement, driving, family roles, parenting, Pakistan, persecution, religion, culture.

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