Iraqi Refugee Cultural Project

1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish (100 words):
Philly Stake funds would allow us to develop a project with a skilled group of journalists and artists from Iraq interested in developing a cultural program to shed light on the culture and traditions of Iraq, along with their experiences as refugees coming from a war-torn country. Often victims of racist name-calling and called “terrorists” in America, this group wishes to cultivate awareness of their culture and experiences, while teaching that Islam is a fundamentally peaceful religion. This project would involve readings and performances of narratives about participants’ experiences, traditional foods, participatory take-home art, and activities for children.

2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $800 is your imaginary budget (50 words):
Funds would pay interpreters and cover costs for the event including: tech, Iraqi foods to be shared with recipes, and the production of a one-time creative and cultural newsletter as a “take home” for event participants and to also be sent to Iraqi refugee families residing in Philadelphia.

3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal) (100 words):
The PRMHC supports ethnic communities in designing strengths-based programming to process past trauma, with a focus on community and ethnic art in healing programs.
The resilience of Iraqi refugees who have fled violent conflict overseas is inspiring, along with their dedication to cultural preservation and teaching about their experiences in the face of discrimination from xenophobic neighbors. This project will build off of the success of a refugee photojournalism exhibition at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens and provide an outlet for the cultural and professional talents of participants, while also providing a safe venue to discuss experiences and promote understanding between cultures.

4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community? (100 words):
This project will give Philadelphians a view into the lives of their newest neighbors through an exhibition of Iraqi art, music, writings, food, and folklore. This event will tie into World Refugee Day or Ramadan, and possibly integrate support from the Penn Museum’s exhibition on Iraq and Islam. As noted during previous work with the community, there is a tremendous sense of loss due to the destruction of the Baghdad museum and racism experienced by new Iraqis. This project will promote cultural preservation and inheritance, while also allowing for a safe and meaningful exchange between Iraqis and their American-born neighbors.