Moving from Iraq to the USA & “The American Dream”

The Iraqi debt crisis is out of control. Often times, parents in Iraq hope and plead for their children to go to the United States with hopes for a better life. It is, after all, what seems to be the end all be all answer. The Iraqi parents believe that the second that their child lands in Iraq, in whatever mode of transport (often times not a commercial flight, rather via water channels or unmarked aircraft) that he or she chooses, that the American dream will be handed to them.

It is quite the opposite actually, and we are here to look at the story of Maryam, a 23 year old living in the United States for 8 years. Maryam was born in the heart of Baghdad and moved to the United States when she was 8 years old. “It seemed to be the place of opportunity and an opportunity to change my fate”, says Maryam, sipping on native Iraqi tea in a cafe during our interview. “I love the country, but what seems to be left out in the conversation that parents have with their children before sending them off is the debt that they will endure. The average American has tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and a vast majority of Americans die with at least one form of debt. You get a credit card, get some debt, and then wonder how long do late payments stay on a credit report because you made a mistake. This stays with you forever and it is different than the Middle East where credit is nonexistent. It’s these basic personal finance mistakes that parents don’t know about and cannot warn their young, naive children going to a new country about and that is what hinders them from the American dream.”

We thank Maryam for her time and expertise on this interview and hope to have more to you soon.

Welcome to Aswat al-Iraq

Aswat al-Iraq (in Arabic اصوات العراق, Kurdish ئه‌سوات ئه‌لعیراق) is an independent national news agency in Iraq, established in 2004. Funded by the United Nations Development Program, and with assistance from the Reuters Foundation and Internews, it produces over 60 stories a day in Arabic, some 20 to 25 in English and 15 to 20 in the Sorani dialect of Kurdish. All stories are published on the agency’s website. Aswat al-Iraq means ‘Voices of Iraq’ in English.

Aswat’s director is the Iraqi journalist and writer Zuhair Al-Jezairy, who in 2008 was a visiting scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Its current operational base is in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, in the city of Irbil. The agency operates a network of reporters and stringers in all of Iraq’s 18 governorates, plus regional cities of importance to Iraqi news such as Amman, Cairo, Damascus and Tehran.

Its Arabic service has long been widely reprinted and used by media in Iraq and the wider Arab world, such as the London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper, the Jordanian newspaper Ad Dustour, and the Saudi Press Agency. Its English service has been quoted in international media, such as the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the UK’s the Guardian and Daily Mail, and Germany’s DPA, as well the NGO Amnesty International.

Three journalists who worked for Aswat al-Iraq have been killed, including Sahar Hussein al-Haideri, who in 2007 won a Kurt Schork award in International Journalism, and in 2008 posthumously won an Amnesty International UK Media award. Aswat al-Iraq was based in Baghdad until 2005, when it move to Cairo, citing security concerns. In Cairo it was hosted by the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. The desk moved to Irbil in the spring of 2007 and maintains a network of correspondents and editors in the Iraqi capital.[citation needed]

Aswat has served as a training school for journalism since its inception. Interviews with director Jezairy, editors, clients and supporters of the agency are online in Arabic, English and Kurdish.

Legally, Aswat is registered both as an offshore company in Cyprus and a non-profit organisation in the Kurdish autonomous region. Registration as an NGO in Baghdad is in process.