This interview was featured in the 27th print volume of the Asian American Policy Review.
Asian American Policy Review (AAPR) : Let’s start with a little bit about your story. When did you begin to draw, and what does art mean to you?
Shurooq Al Jewari: I was in third grade when I started to draw. You know the coloring books where you color in the pictures? I started to buy the books, but not color in them. Instead, I would copy the pictures. Since then, art has become everything to me.
AAPR: Can you tell us about your submitted artwork?
Al Jewari: The first picture shows a big tree on the beach with the sunset in the background. The second picture shows an ocean with a giant moon over it. In the middle is a sidewalk, which is lit by lights. The sunset inspires me to do art. It makes me want to pick up my pencil and paper and draw.
AAPR: What are some other things that you enjoy doing? What are your hopes and dreams—both in the short- and long-term.
Al Jewari: I love fashion and designing clothes. I like to dance and cook my country’s food the most. I want to be an artist, fashion designer, and a surgeon all at the same time in the future.
AAPR: How did you and/or your family come to Utah? What is your family’s story—and what does it mean to you?
Al Jewari: I have been in Utah for three years. My dad was working with the government in my home country, and we had to come to Utah for safety. We did some interviews to come to the United States . . . lots of interviews. Finally, they called us, but only my dad, my siblings, and I made it to Utah. My mom came after a month.
Moving to Utah affected me a lot because I left my family in my home country. I left my country that I was in for thirteen years. Yes, it affected me a lot.
AAPR: When did you start coming out to RIU-AAC? What programs do you participate in? What role does the center play in your life?
Al Jewari: I started last October in the afterschool program. It is a good place to be in. I enjoy it because I have many friends to hang out with.
AAPR: Is there anything we haven’t asked about that you would like us to convey to our readers?
Al Jewari: Thank you for this opportunity!
Shurooq Al Jewari
I am Muslim
I hear people saying Muslims are terrorists
I pretend I am not nervous
I am nervous
I am Muslim
I speak loudly and say Islam is all about peace and
They say Islam is a piece of violence
I understand they don’t know much about Islam
I am Iraqi
I understand they don’t know how now we hide behind
Dropped on innocent moms
I am Muslim
I am what I am
I try to be strong and hopeful
I hope that they will understand Islam
I am Muslim
مسلمة و افتخر
The AAPR team was introduced to Shurooq through the Refugee and Immigrant Center-Asian Association of Utah (RIC-AAU), a private, nonprofit, community-based organization founded in 1977 and located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Originally established to support Asian immigrants and refugees in their transition to life in the United States, the organization has expanded its resources and services over the past forty years to assist refugees and immigrants from around the world. Today, they serve over 4,000 refugees, immigrants, and other community members each year. With over sixty staff members, their backgrounds cover seventeen countries and over thirty languages.
The RIC-AAU is devoted to helping clients become more self-sufficient in their daily lives by ensuring that clients have: (1) stability in meeting basic needs, (2) knowledge and tools to navigate systems, (3) a meaningful connection to community, and (4) educational and vocational opportunities that foster intergenerational prosperity. They do this through a comprehensive approach that includes holistic case management, employment services, counseling and mental health treatment, English classes, after-school tutoring, and more.
The RIC-AAU is committed to walking with people on their journeys to self-sufficiency. They know their work not only makes a difference in the lives of those they serve, but changes our whole community for the better.
Al Jewari, Shurooq. “An Interview with Shurooq Al Jewari.” Asian American Policy Review 27 (2017): 102-105.