July 6, 2015 |
When July Fourth rolls around, I always think of my grandparents, who emigrated to the "land of the free" from Russia, which undoubtedly saved their lives and enabled mine. Needless to say, I believe immigrants are a source of America's strength. But this year, when musing on immigration, my thoughts turn to the record numbers of desperate migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in flimsy boats organized by Libyan smugglers. More than 137,000 refugees crossed from January to June, landing in Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain, an 83 percent increase from the same period in 2014.
July 2, 2015 |
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. - The band rocked "Bad Moon Rising. " Party guests signed a banner, adding memories of 1975 with colored markers. A projector flashed slides of how everyone looked back then. But this was no ordinary 40th reunion. On Saturday, 40 years after the mass exodus of South Vietnamese when Saigon fell to communist forces on April 30, 1975, about 200 former refugees - U.S. citizens now - reunited for the first time at this Lebanon County Army post that was their first home in America on a journey of assimilation.
June 6, 2015 |
Doris Polsky, a precocious mathematician who helped integrate Mt. Airy, died in her home Wednesday at Cresheimbrook Condominium. She was 90. Along with her twin sister, she was recruited out of the Philadelphia High School for Girls to work on U.S. Army research ballistics during World War II. Together, they also helped found the Allens Lane Art Center and West Mt. Airy Neighbors. As owners of Twin Realty they helped staunch white flight in Northwest Philadelphia during the 1960s, and thwarted banks' redlining practices and selling to people of all colors, creeds and sexual orientations.
May 27, 2015 |
Their classmates may be at the pool or on the beach this summer, but seven Hill School students plan to be in Turkey, volunteering at a Syrian refugee camp. The students, all girls, will travel as part of the Give A Hand program, started last year by Hülya Kösematoglu, a sophomore at the Pottstown boarding school. In addition to helping the refugees, the goal of the girls is to learn about local life and Turkish culture. Kösematoglu, who moved to the United States two years ago from Istanbul, said she realized the Western world has a drastically different view of her home.
May 25, 2015 |
The news from the Middle East has become so grim I am always looking for a bright spot. So, on a recent trip to Iraqi Kurdistan, it was a relief and a surprise to come across an upbeat story in an unexpected place: a church in Erbil that houses Christian refugees from northern Iraq who barely escaped the ISIS invasion in August. The first hint of something unexpected was the shrieks of children's laughter when I entered the Mar Elias churchyard. The next surprise was seeing young boys and girls playing volleyball together on a paved court under improvised night lights, a sight I'd never seen in the gender-conscious Middle East.
April 27, 2015 |
Trudy Rubin is on a 10-day assignment to the Mideast. In Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, she is talking with Kurdish leaders, peshmerga commanders, U.S. military trainers, and Christian refugees. Next, in Jordan, she will interview officials about their fight with the Islamic State, as well as Syrian refugees at the Zaatari camp. Follow her @trudyrubin.
November 25, 2014 |
Newly arrived Iraqi refugee Razan Alkasey struggled Sunday to find the right words to explain the meaning of Thanksgiving. After recounting a harrowing escape from Baghdad with her four sons and a daughter and only a few belongings, Alkasey, 48, easily embraced the American holiday tradition and ticked off a list. "I thank God for freedom," she said. "I thank God we are all together. I thank God for everything, for giving me this opportunity to come here for a new life. " Alkasey was among about 200 refugees who attended a festive gathering to share a Thanksgiving meal at the Old Pine Community Center in South Philadelphia.
November 11, 2014 |
One in an occasional series on America's changing face Annonciata Nsenga kicked off her sneakers, stood on a chair, and tapped a nail into a wall of her rented rowhouse in Point Breeze. Eighteen years after she and her husband, Jean Pierre, both Congolese, fled their homeland's violence for a refugee camp in Rwanda - and five months into their new lives in Philadelphia - the rail-thin mother of five finally felt comfortable enough to hang a fresh portrait of the family, dressed nattily, smiling hopefully.
October 10, 2014 |
SOM MAYA TAMANG and her husband, Mongal Singh Tamang, fled their small cattle farm on the hillsides of Bhutan, a landlocked country in South Asia, with their young children clinging to their sides. After hearing of other ethnic Nepalis being murdered, beaten and abused by government forces, they feared that the army or police would come knocking on their door, too. It was 1992. The couple, then in their 30s, walked five days on foot westward from Bhutan to India with their six children, the oldest of whom was 12. In India, they boarded a truck for a night's journey to Nepal.
July 4, 2014 |
As Mitchell Torh dipped his hand into the cool waters of the river that separates Liberia from Ivory Coast, the young boy didn't understand the stakes: His family was escaping from a civil war raging in his native Liberia. In Torh's memory, the cost of the canoe trip across the Cavalla River was two bags of rice. That started a journey that included a decade in a refugee camp in Ghana - where he was separated from his family - and finally ended at a soccer field in Southwest Philadelphia.