Immigrants In Their Own Voice: The Torch Still Burning Bright

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The Auburn, California I grew up in was almost wholly white. In my research for this book, I received some scans of Placer High School yearbook photos from the late and then some from the late s. The earlier yearbooks showed a student body that was perhaps 50 percent Asian in origin; the later books showed perhaps three or four Asian faces peering back at the lens. Awareness is something that is fairly easily controlled by those in power, especially in those days of pre-internet. The generation who experienced internment were very reticent to talk about it, as a result of which there is something of a paucity of first hand accounts of it in contrast to say, firsthand accounts of the European death camps.

The generations after — their children and grandchildren — are much more interested in uncovering the indignity and terror of that experience. At what point in the process of conceptualizing and drafting did you settle on this particular point of view? The problem I had with it is one of understanding my own white privilege.

Chapter 2 is, in most ways, the actual start of the novel, Chapter 1 being a kind of rough cut. In this way I had hoped to be able to do both — tell the close, emotional story of the Takahashis, but also clearly indicate that this is a story being told by a white writer who really has no business in this narrative.

While empathy often possesses a quality of immediacy, fully realized empathy requires prolonged imaginative engagement. Such creation cannot be accomplished without also imposing meaning on the narrative, and Frazier recognizes this and is troubled by the fear that he is illicitly co-opting a story not his own. Implicit here is the idea that all empathy necessarily entails a degree of co-optation. In what ways did you wrestle with this reality as you wrote? So we have John Frazier in the mids, telling a story about something he was somewhat involved in in , most of which actually takes place in JL: I was most moved by the scene where Mrs.

CK: Mrs.

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Takahashi is, as a character, much more understanding of the actual sociopolitical situation in which they find themselves. Her husband deeply believes that Homer Wilson, their white landlord, is a real friend to him, but Kimiko Takahashi understands that in the crucible, the Wilsons will probably think of themselves as white before they consider who their friends are.

It is not a halcyon endless summer of peaches and plums. It is a white Christian country that, as Japanese Buddhists, will never be their own.

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JL: Many migrants experience immigration and integration as a kind of death and rebirth. Even as diverse a country as the United States expects its immigrants to assimilate; and this is as true among those on the right as on the left, though the latter finds ingenious ways to avoid employing such language. Implicit in this expectation is the idea that there is indeed some coherent culture into which one can assimilate.

But, so it seems to me, no such stable culture exists any longer in the United States, if it ever did. CK: There was a cartoon short when I was growing up, perhaps part of the Schoolhouse Rock stuff, that was about America as a melting pot.

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Even as a child that seemed pretty odd to me. What a joy that there are Indian neighborhoods in Newark, or Burmese neighborhoods in Indianapolis, or Persian neighborhoods in Los Angeles, or the vibrant Somali and Ethiopian communities in Minneapolis. This is, I think, what makes America interesting and adaptable. Why anyone would want an ethnically or culturally monolithic America is simply beyond my ability to understand.

The best work we can do, as a nation, as citizens, as human beings, is to listen to the broadest possible swath of voices.

This is how we understand what it is to be human, or rather to define ourselves first in terms of our humanity and only fourth or fifth or sixth by the arbitrary idea of nationhood. If your neighbor does not look like you want them to, what does that mean about you and your own beliefs? What are you so afraid of and why? It seemed as if the families she bonded with years earlier in refugee camps bordering Syria were now home.

Khatib co-founded the Syria Film Festival in Toronto to voice the struggles and hopes of the Syrian people. Khatib knows the refugee experience first-hand. Her family arrived in Canada as Syrian refugees years ago. The kindness of those who welcomed her then is something she was determined to pay forward. SCF aims to empower newcomers and people of diverse backgrounds, and promotes cross-cultural exchanges within Canadian society.

Khatib also champions the initiatives of outstanding refugees, like table tennis champion, Dema Dahouk.

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Giacomo Gianniotti is currently wrapping up his fifth season starring as Dr. He can be seen shortly in his independent feature Acquainted , set to release in April across Canada, which he starred and executive produced with his own production company he started along side actor and friend Jonathan Keltz.

He speaks English and Italian fluently and is starting to make a name for himself as a director as well. Karim Karsan immigrated from Kenya as a child, leaving behind his life there due to socio-political turmoil to rebuild a new one in Canada. He and his family moved here at the end of November just in time for them to experience a Canadian winter. They had to get used to the new ways in Canada, being treated as outsiders, facing racial slurs and having to navigate a new climate. He has spent his career as a lawyer and then senior executive in roles that focused on consumer protection in the public service.

As a lawyer at the Metro Toronto Housing Authority, he improved the lives of residents there by dealing with those engaged in illegal and anti-social activities. At the AGCO, he ensured that the liquor and gaming industries were run in the public interest. As vice-president, consumer protection, and chief compliance officer at the Ontario Energy Board, he cracked down on unscrupulous retailers defrauding consumers.

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He is currently the registrar at CPA Ontario. Karsan is committed to making the world around him a better place. Karsan currently sits on the board of the Ontario Arts Council and heads its audit and finance committee. Ali Ghorbani came to Canada with his wife, Mahin, and three children, Baharak, Babak and Forough, in and have called it home ever since. Ghorbani held a variety of positions in academia for the past 37 years, over 20 years of it at University of New Brunswick UNB. As a professor and an entrepreneur, he worked to create opportunities for his students and colleagues to excel.

Most of his graduate students either went on to become entrepreneurs, faculty members or work at companies such as IBM, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, to name a few.

The institute is a comprehensive multidisciplinary training, research and development, and entrepreneurial unit with more than 50 researchers and graduate students. He served as the dean of the faculty of computer science at the University of New Brunswick for nine years, from to He is also the founding director of the laboratory for intelligence and adaptive systems research, as well as the co-founder of the Privacy, Security, Trust PST Network in Canada and the organizer of its annual international conference.

Ghorbani has spent the last 27 years of his year academic career carrying out both fundamental and applied research in the area of cybersecurity, machine learning and web intelligence. He is the co-inventor of three awarded patents in the field of network security and web intelligence and has published more than peer-reviewed articles and supervised more than research associates, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students during his career.

He served as the co-editor-in-chief of Computational Intelligence: An International Journal from to Furthermore, he developed some technologies that have been adopted by high-tech companies and co-founded two startups, Sentrant Security and EyesOver Technologies in and , respectively. To give back to Canada for all the opportunities he has had, Ghorbani and his wife established a scholarship at UNB for computer science or software engineering students from developing countries.

Muzna Dureid is a Syrian refugee who arrived in Montreal in November She is working as a liaison officer with the White Helmets the winner of the alternative Nobel peace prize of In her short time in Canada two years , she has already proved herself to be a community leader.

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Dureid is also the founder of the Indigenous—Refugees Movement, which is a safe space for women and workshop series for youth on lessons learned between both groups which aim to build stronger bonds in Canada. Tulsi Dharel was born in the country of Mt. Everest Nepal. He immigrated to Canada in with his wife and son. Over the years, he has received several awards and acknowledgement of his hard work and commitment to making change. Since , Dharel has been in the teaching profession.

His areas of interest are international marketing, marketing research and sales promotion. Besides teaching, he has quite extensive experience working as a consultant, a business entrepreneur, a mentor, a community activist and a public speaker. Currently, he is teaching at Centennial College, Toronto, Canada since as a full-time professor of marketing.

As well, he was the chairperson of the Himalayan Festival at Nathen Philip Square in Toronto, , one of the biggest outdoor Nepalese festivals in North America.