Tracker Pixel for Entry

Kurdish American tells his story in ‘My Journey to America’

by Brittney Goodman | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Culture | June 22nd, 2017

Newzad Brifki’s journey to America began in Kurdistan and led him through a refugee camp in Turkey and eventually to Fargo-Moorhead. Currently, this Moorhead resident is focusing on work with the organization he created, the Kurdish Community of America, and publicizing his new book My Journey to America: A Kurdish AmericanStory.

Brifki came here in 1992 when he was seven years old: “I fled Kurdistan in 1988 and we lived in refugee camps in Turkey until we came to the U.S. in 1992.” His family, his mother and five of his siblings made the journey. One sister was left behind as she was already married and the law did not allow her transport.

Brifki’s text describes the Kurds as being “oppressed” under “brutal governments and dictators of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey.” The book describes the Kurds as “a brave race that have always been fierce warriors” who are “known for fighting throughout history against tyrannies.”

Brifki’s family came to our community before what he calls the “more systematic structure” of Lutheran Social Services. Their avenue to America was through sponsorships: “Families hosted us. They tried to welcome us, give us shelter, and to break the cultural shock of our transition. They welcomed us in a way to make us feel like we were home.” He is grateful: “It was good for the years that we were there.”

He graduated from Moorhead Senior High in 2003. He then went to college to achieve an Associate degree from MState and completed his undergraduate degree from MSUM in Business Administration. Brifki went on to receive an MBA from University of Mary in August of 2014.

The Brifkis currently live in Moorhead. They moved there from Fargo in 1995. Brifki has a wife, two daughters and one son: Peyvin is 5; Lorin is 3; and Perwer (which means “protector” in Kurdish) will be 1 in June.

Brifki’s book is a personal memoir about his journey to the United States. The book came out in the middle of March, 2017. He has had many interviews and media appearances along with a reading at the Moorhead Public Library earlier this spring. Brifki will be doing a reading and book signing on June 28th at the Fargo Public Library at 7 pm at the Downtown Branch.

Brifki is founder and director of the Kurdish Community of America, housed in south Moorhead. The organization was established on September 9, 2009, and was Brifki’s brainchild.

He says he began the organization because “there is a vast local Kurdish community and there was no representation for them. Kurds have been in the Midwest since the 1970s. We wanted to create a resource center for community members, to offer resources such as a community member coming to us for capital to start a business and also to be there New Kurdish Americans. Many came after Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lastly, we wanted to provide an educational opportunity for the greater community – people who were born here – people who may not know much about different cultures. We are a part of this community too; we are Kurdish and want people to understand where we came from. Our organization is about building bridges and a better understanding of the Kurds -- the friendliest people you can ever meet. And we are the biggest US ally in the Middle East currently.”

The organization has helped refugee children in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and has raised money to build a library in Kobane, the Kurdistan region of Syrian. In 2016, they collaborated with Elind Hozan, a famous Kurdish singer, with a project to raise money for orphan children.

He is very appreciative of his life in our community: “The things we have here are very good and one should be grateful to have these things – such as, running water, good roads, institutions we can have ready access to. It is a system we should appreciate. Nothing is perfect, but it is sure better than many other places in the world.”

From his book, Brifki writes that we should appreciate: “Cold water to drink and swim in, grocery stores and markets that have shelves full of food. Good doctors and medicine to treat illnesses. Schools that are clean and where one can actually focus on their studies. Our lights are on all of the time when we need it in our developed countries.”

His motivation to write the book came after being asked to speak at many service clubs, organizations and institutions who wanted him to speak about his experience: “I began to realize that I wanted to reach a larger audience. What if I could tell my story beyond Fargo-Moorhead, to the United States, to the world? I wanted to share my experiences – what I saw before and after I came to live here. I want to share how I have contributed to this country along with my gratitude to this country for allowing me to become the best that I can be.

“I feel compelled to educate people. We are a nation of many nations. If one were to really look deeply at the history of this country, he or she would greatly appreciate everyone in it.”

Brifki has had to overcome obstacles in his journey to America. Brifki says that “when I was younger, my challenge was poverty. But when I grew up, it was more about trying to fit in and prove myself.” Brifki’s enthusiasm, confidence, intelligence and communication skills are evident, and he asserts: “When it comes to debate, it’s going to be hard to defeat me.”

Brifki’s biggest joy is his appreciation of “the American people for giving me a safe haven. This includes good schools, good education and a good job. I have a lot of appreciation because here I can sleep well at night and wake up tomorrow knowing that I can be a better person and have more opportunity with the new day. I don’t think a person would find that in a lot of the other countries in the world.”

Brifki hopes for his children “to give them everything that they need to be successful and good people. After that it is going to be up to them to write their own book. I can’t hold their hand every step of the way. But I can prepare them to be good people. And hopefully they will have more than I have.”

Brifki currently is a substitute teacher for Moorhead Schools. In addition to that, he works hard at his job at the Kurdish Community of America and is busy publicizing and selling his book. He adds, “I also do want to run for office; It’s hard as the underdog. I ran in 2013 but I do want to run again.”

Brifki says that is you are interested in collaborating on a project, purchasing his book or having him come to your group for a public speaking engagement or book signing, contact him through social media, such as Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. The book is also available via Amazon and on Next Century Publishing’s web site.

In the book’s epilogue, Brifki writes: “Leaving my homeland and everything I knew in starting a life in a whole new world was not easy, but it was a journey to remember.”

He describes it as a journey of “seeing new faces, a new culture, a new language and way of life” that was “not only a cultural shock but a very hard situation to be in.”

But Brifki’s book is full of promise and life lessons, as he advises: “For those of us who have been blessed with everything that God has given us, we should be thankful. Do not get ahead of yourself by having a big ego because that will only kill you. Be confident but always hungry to learn more about others, about yourself, and about the world.”

IF YOU GO 

Reading and book signing, Newzad Brifki’s MyJourney to America 

Wednesday, June 28, 7pm 

Fargo Public Library, 102 3rd St N, Fargo

Recently in:

Sophia Wilansky says she’s lucky she’s right handed. Since nearly losing her left arm from an exploding projectile on Backwater Bridge one year ago, cooking has become a tedious art. She can no longer be involved in circus…

Thanksgiving is around the corner and we give thanks for the blessing of the harvest. Everyone is getting ready for the Thanksgiving feast.After Thanksgiving, we can easily imagine the endless long lines in early morning for the…

Thursday, November 16, 7-9pmUnglued, 408 Broadway N, FargoProof Artisan Distillers and Unglued present a craft party with four distinct projects and help from artists Ashley from AENDEE and Nicole Rae, not to mention a special…

“The experience of all ages has proved that the people constantly give away their liberties.” - John Adams“Man’s dishonesty with himself is his greatest enemy. When he makes a mistake, his memory admits, ‘I have done…

The thoughts and prayers of politicians will finally be answeredWe have had 307 mass shootings (four kills or more) so far in 2017, including the last one in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 mortals attending church, aged 18…

For the third week in a row, our panel of judges were out on the town with a thirst for cocktails and a focus on presentation, flavor, and creativity. This week’s adventures took us to a couple of hotspots in south Fargo, as the…

Colder weather, changing leaves, pumpkin spice and more are some of the few things that come to mind when many think of fall. But fall is about much more than sugary lattes and scarves, and you can fully indulge in fall flavors at…

I’m told that there is nothing quite like a live Green Jelly show, where anarchy and foam puppets reign. So perhaps it’s in the spirit of the upcoming show that my intended interview with the mastermind and vocalist behind the…

Putting to good use his affinity for period detail, filmmaker Todd Haynes tackles Brian Selznick’s 639-page “Wonderstruck,” with a screenplay adapted by the author. Weaving together a pair of New York stories that take place…

Would you like to escape your stressful daily life with a relaxing arts event? Do you like to meet with old friends and make new ones? Or maybe you would like to start your Christmas and Holiday shopping early. FMVA has the event…

Ted Larson introduced me to Chris Jacobs one evening at Weld Hall in the late 1980s. I was in high school then, but Chris recognized fellow film fanatics, and we would chat a little bit each week. I learned quickly that he loved…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Believe it or not, “The Holidays” are upon us. If you’ve been to Target lately, and I know you have, you may have noticed that the Christmahanakwanzika stuff is already up (if you’re unsure of that term, Google it).In fact,…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Anthony Paul [Editor’s note: This piece contains language that some readers may find offensive]It has been all over social media and the news lately, how our president and commander-in-chief called and spoke with one of these…