We tell, we talk about our feelings to each other, we talk about our, our experiences, our traumas to each other, we share. And then in the sharing, there is healing both in for each of the teller and for the receiver, you know? And so I think there’s a inevitably our understanding of, of each other improves, deepens through the sharing, whether it’s in person, speaking poems in a, in a group, uh, whether it’s virtually down through, through video and, and, and radio.
C. aArea where I grew up, but it also turned out to be one of my most transformative life experiences
Um, but it’s, um, it’s basic to diplomacy. I think if we don’t understand the other, uh, that person remains the other, and that’s the basic, uh, recipe for war and for division and conflict, you know? We have to eliminate the concept of the other. And the only way we could do that is by promoting, uh, unions and meetings. And so spoken word is a way of uniting, uh, peoples and, and eliminating or helping to eliminate this notion of the other, you know?
I remember during the Iran, uh, it was a long time ago now, the, the hostage crisis, um, under Jimmy Carter’s presidency, when I was in, um, I was in Philadelphia, a college student.
Uh, and I, I had to run out of a bar to escape a group of people who saw me as a, as a threat to, as an Iranian as somehow a, who assumed that I was somehow part of this, um, violence that was being committed against those diplomats and others who were held hostage in Iran at that time. So how do, how can poetry help with that? I don’t know. I just think we have to, we have to do our best to share and keep sharing by all means necessary.
And so, um, I think mutual understanding and spoken word are uh, uh, bread and butter of our work and I, and always need to be, I mean, it’s hard to know how to measure necessarily the impact of a program on somebody’s consciousness, but if you, but, but that’s the fact that it’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do that program.
Description: As a Pakistani-American immigrant, Mariya Ilyas grew up outside of Washington, D.C. before attending Bowdoin College. After leaving a corporate job to pursue a career in public service and then receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Istanbul, Turkey, Mariya discovered the power that lay in her hyphenated-identity.
This episode is a story of resiliency, self-sacrifice, and belonging. Join us to hear how Mariya’s exchange led her to become more open-minded, and how it also led her to a pivotal moment in her time abroad – an encounter with the “Wishing Tree.”
I went to school with students whose parents were in the military and immigrants from places like Afghanistan and Sudan. And as an immigrant myself, it was an incredible experience to be surrounded by so much socioeconomic, linguistic, ethnic diversity.
I, I um, it’s a very sensitive subject as a migrant, uh, in the United States
And growing up, I always thought that that’s what America looked like because that’s where my family settled and that’s all I knew. Um, I ended up going to go on and study at a small liberal arts college called Bowdoin College in Coastal Maine, uh, which was a unique experience. Not only because it was very homogenous, um, and not as diverse as the D. Um, it taught me a concept of community and resilience, um, and giving back.