Sunday, March 25, 2007


Letter From an American History Teacher

This is an email that mom received and asked me to post on her site (she is safe and sound, just busy)...
[i removed the name and address of the sender, because I was not sure if he wanted to have his name posted, but he agreed to have his letter posted.]

hope you all are well.

oh and, pass by my blog and drop me a comment, would you? ;0)



Dear Faiza,

Assalam Aleikom,

I hope that this e-mail reaches you and your family in safety and

My name is S.... I am a college student in S......
studying to be a history teacher. I am currently doing a student
teaching internship at a local high school. My school is in a economically
diverse section of town and I have many students of color. They are mostly
Black, but there are also Asian students, students from the Pacific
Islands, Mexico and also several from Middle Eastern countries.

Since this week commemorated the beginning of the 5th year of my
country's military occupation of your country, I really wanted to
discuss the issue with my students. I initially wanted to show them
a movie that is very critical of the Bush administration's foreign
policies, and uncovers many of the lies that our president used to
convince Americans that invading Iraq was necessary. But then I
found a movie that was made by Michael Franti that shows the human
cost of war. I watched it and was was brought nearly to tears as I
saw these human costs of war in Iraq. I often think about this side
of the war story, but in America, we never get to actually SEE it on
our TVs. So, I decided to show this movie to my class instead as the
political one, because in the end, I think people are much more
important than politics and I wanted them to see how Iraqi people are
being forced to live.

My guess is that you would remember Michael Franti, an extremely tall
American musician who went to Baghdad with his guitar and a film crew
to capture what life is like in Baghdad under American military
rule. Also, you are featured in his film during several scenes. In
the film he goes around Baghdad singing his "Habibi" song.

Well, prior to showing Mr. Franti's film in my class, I had been
teaching my students about the American government's policies
regarding Native American during the 19th century, and I was able to
relate those policies to America's foreign policy regarding Iraq. I
told my students that Native Americans were pushed from their land
and had their lives and cultures destroyed for the benefit of a few
rich and powerful people who gained a lot by steeling Native
American's land. And in Mr. Franti's movie you of course said
exactly that; that Americans are destroying Iraqi people's lives and
culture for the benefit of a few very rich and powerful people. It
is so sad, and unfortunately so true. And many days, I am sorry to
be American.

So, I showed this film in my class, and as much as it affected me as
I watched it alone, it affected me so much more to watch it with my
students. I could see them begin to understand how much Iraqi people
are just like them, and how frightening it must be to live in Baghdad
at this time. They saw a family who had lived in their basement for
11 days while American's bombed your city. They saw children with no legs
from bomb attacks. They saw the sky black and dirty from all the
pollution caused by all of the generators that are now powering your
city. And they saw people very near their own ages just trying to
survive and create a life for themselves that is as close to normal
as they can possibly make it during this terrible war. And I saw the
looks in their eyes and on their faces as they realized that people
in Iraq can't even have their basic human needs met at this time.

But I don't want this e-mail to be all sad, and I hope maybe I can
put a smile on your face today as you read this story.

After the movie, I had a discussion with my students and asked them
to tell me good things and bad things they learned from the movie,
and also something that they found interesting. Then I had them
answer some questions in writing. So, I wanted to write to you and
show you some of the answers that my students provided to my
questions. Here are the questions I asked my students which are
followed by their responses.

Question 1: What did you find most surprising about the lives the
Iraqi people are living under the American military occupation:

Lolita said: "The thing I found most surprising about the lives the
Iraqi people are living under the American military occupation is
that everyone is treated the same by the American military no matter
who you are, man, woman, or child you could be killed at any time and
are treated very rudely.

Chase said: I'm surprised that they can't walk outside of their
homes because there is no security.

Romeo said: I'm surprised that are constant blackouts.

Antonio said: I'm surprised that they are still trying to live a
normal life.

Jeanene said: The most surprising thing I believe that I didn't know
what was happening in Iraq. That everyday they are living with fear
knowing that one of their family members might not survive, and that
Iraq isn't safe anymore. People are being rude to each other and
there's kidnapping.

Staci said: I'm surprised how most of the Iraqis tried to stay happy
even though times are tough.

Latisha said: I thought that the most surprising thing was that the
Iraqis have "no life". They have to be in their homes at 3:00pm
because they are terrified of violence.

Brian said: It was surprising that the people are afraid of the
American troops, and that people are dying who have nothing to do
with terrorism.

Question 2: Did you learn anything new about the Iraqi people or
culture? If so, what?

Ashley said: Yes, they just want to live a normal life.

Melanie said: Yes, they are just like us. They have dreams. They
are not different because they live in Iraq. They are just human,
they just want respect.

Fushia said: I learned that they never give up, no matter what.

Brianna said: Yes, they are just like us, and some of the Iraqi
people are Christian and that was surprising.

Edison said: I learned that Iraqis are friendly and peaceful.

Josh said: Yes, that they live dangerous lives, but they still found
things to be happy about and thankful for.

I asked several more questions as well. I asked my students why we
never see stories like yours and other Iraqi family's stories in our
news media, and nearly all of them understood that if we saw stories
like yours on our TVs that there would certainly be a lot more people
protesting the war here in America. I also asked them if they felt
it was important that we learn about different cultures and peoples
from around the world, and nearly all of them felt that it was. That
is the problem with American education, and the system keeps getting
worse under president bush. Our students want to learn about what is
happening in the world. They want to learn about different people
and cultures, but teachers are being forced to teach what the
government wants them too. I am lucky in that the government hasn't
yet decided what history teachers have to teach. But it is becoming
a sad state of affairs in America's schools. Hopefully, change is
coming soon for both of our countries, inshallah. And like Michael
Franti said: "Revolution never comes with a warning".

Finally, thank you so much for sharing your life on your blog. I was
reading through your archives, and I went back to when the war
started. Reading your stories made my stomach hurt. I can't even
imagine what it would have been like to live through that like you
and your family did. So thank you again, and I hope that you and
your family are safe and healthy.


Maa' Assalama,

Yalla, bye.

S...., USA.

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