Visitors to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology's Middle East gallery not only get to see exquisite artifacts, but also hear from tour guides who offer special insight into the priceless relics.
The museum has hired immigrants and refugees from Syria and Iraq, who are trained to share details about the items and answer questions while also telling their own stories and memories about their homelands. Hadi Jasim is from Iraq, and was an interpreter for the U.S. military in 2004. He is in the United States on a visa for Iraqis who worked with the military, and told PRI that "sometimes, even if I don't have tours here, I just show up to work, go through the Middle East gallery, go and see the clay tables, and see the carvings. It just brings my memories back."
Being surrounded by pieces of his heritage makes Jasim feel close to home, while also adapting to his new life in America, he says. "I don't feel like I'm a stranger [any] more." Catherine Garcia