Posted by Arab American Institute on June 30, 2015 in Blog

All month we've featured the incredible contributions many famous Arab American immigrants have made to our great country. But you don't have to be famous to make a difference.  The Arab American Institute inaugurated the #IAmArabAmerican program last summer to highlight the lives and experiences of Arab Americans across the country. We are proud of our community and hope you will enjoy reading about Arab Americans from all walks of life. Click here to view our #IAmArabAmerican album on Facebook


sirene.jpgWhat gives you the most satisfaction in your job? 

"The reality is, when a woman in Kansas donates $20 to a campaign, that's $20 she could have spent on diapers or gas. Instead, she chooses to spend her hard-earned money promoting a belief or candidate that she believes will better her country, her family. Our elections team here at Google connects candidates with people in hopes that everyone has a voice in the electoral process."

-Sirene Abou-Chakra, Washington, DC


tarik_m.jpgWhat would you change about the world if you had the power?

"We need to unite more. Although people say technology brings us together, it’s not very true. The "I Can't Breathe" PAC is an extension of that. It’s an attempt to bring us together for a righteous cause and change this trend of mass incarceration and violence that has damaged our country and communities."

- Tarik Mohamed, Founder of the ICantBreathe PAC, New York, NY



rania_m.jpgDescribe an experience that you feel has impacted your life the most.

“My reasons for becoming a photographer became more serious after September 11th. I wanted to tell different stories from the Middle East. The narrative following 9/11 was ‘Them versus Us’ and all of a sudden I was them and us.”

- Rania Matar, her work is currently part of the traveling exhibition “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World”, Boston, Massachusetts



andrew_jaber.jpgWhat is the brightest part of your week?

“At the Arab American National Museum, I try to engage Arab Americans as co-creators of their own history. The brightest part of my week is helping Arab Americans share their stories with the public, by recording oral histories or scanning family photographs, or even showcasing local businesses on culinary walking tours. The Arab American experience is so rich and diverse that we can only know the real history when everyone adds their own story.”

-Matthew Jaber Stiffler, Dearborn, MI


alaa.jpgWhat is the best or most important piece of advice you would offer to others?

“Never give up hope. No matter the struggle, wherever you are around the world. Down the road children will be living in free, democratic societies, so fight your fight and keep living it. Because it’s all about the future.”

- Alaa Basatneh,  Arab American Activist and subject of the documentary: Chicago Girl Chicago, Illinois