Wednesday, May 8, 2019

My Journey to America by Newzad Brifki

My Journey to America: A Kurdish American Story
Newzad Brifki
Published 2017

Throughout my life I had a calling.                                                                                    A calling to lead, to educate and to help others.                                                              ~ Newzad Brifki
While I was visiting the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC last month, I purchased My Journey to America, by Newzad Brifki, who came to America when he was seven-years old. I told him then, when I bought the book from him, that I like these kinds of stories; now I can say that I am really glad I had the opportunity to meet him and read his story.

Born in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, Mr. Brifki was only a few months old when Saddam Hussein's Baath Regime murdered his father, in 1985. Eventually, Hussein's chemical attacks on the Kurdish region caused many to flee the country, including Mr. Brifki's family, in 1988. For four years they were refugees in Turkey. Then, in 1992, American Christian families sponsored Brifki's family to come to the United States. 
My family and I found America. In the United States I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. I went through some tough times in dealing with poverty and  being different...    Despite the prejudice from others...who made me feel uncomfortable and sad, I did not let it get to me because it was not physical harm, but rather psychological. 
Naturally, it was a challenging journey - learning a new language, assimilating into a different culture, and experiencing more poverty. In his autobiography, Mr. Brifki spoke candidly about the arduous trials, unpleasant treatment, and regretful mistakes he made or experienced while growing up. But at some point he decided he did not want to waste his life, and more importantly, he wanted to be able to contribute to society, to "give back," to help others in need because he remembered how others helped his family to come to America. 

Concentrating on his education, Mr. Brifki graduated with bachelor's degrees in science and business, and completed a master's program in business administration. While pursuing his education, he proudly became an American citizen. 

In addition, he founded a nonprofit organization to promote cultural education and to support his community. Then, with the rise of ISIS in Iraq, in 2014, he was troubled by the displaced Kurdish population and decided he must help. Remembering his young life in the unsatisfactory refugee camps, in Turkey, he used his organization to raise funds to purchase supplies - propane, clothing, milk, and diapers - for about 149 families, including 459 children. This event caused him to understand that as long as he has the means and the ability, he would serve others and make a difference in their lives, just as others made a difference in his. 

Furthermore, I found his geographical and historical lessons intriguing, such as the formation of the four divided regions of the Kurdish population, tracing their history back to Mesopotamia, as well as the creation of the "so-called" Middle Eastern countries, resulting from the "collapse of the Ottoman Empire after WWI," all the way to how we look at the Middle East today. 

Now, I have one variance of opinion: Mr. Brifki expressed the idea that America is great because of her diversity. I know this is a common opinion today. However, I would argue that our greatness permits us to be diverse. See, America was not founded on a particular race or common history; rather she was founded on the idea of freedom, which is written into the hearts of men by our Creator. The U.S. Constitution restrains the powers of government, permitting its citizens to flourish, thrive, take risks, and become their greatest potential, even if it means failure. Our Founders understood human nature well, and they envisioned a nation where people would be free to be their best. Because most men and women desire to be free and thrive, America is the best environment for success. 

Finally, I know Mr. Brifki is the kind of person who will succeed because he is taking advantage of his liberty to reach his highest potential. Regardless of the obstacles in the beginning of his life, and the setbacks in his youth, he decided to be accountable. With his soaring optimism and humble gratefulness he has for America, he envisions still an even better future. Recently he ran for local office in his community, and one day, he says, he may want to return to Kurdistan and work with the Kurdish government, if that is where he is called to lead.

Best of luck to you, Mr. Brifki! 


The author, Newzad Brifki @ LATimes Festival of Books

2 comments:

  1. Wow, with the books we normally read, it's not often we get to meet an author! ;-) Sounds like an excellent read. Thanks for sharing his story!

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    1. The story was very intriguing, but there are some issues w/ editing, which is a problem for self-publication, I believe. I gave it a four star rating on GR because the author's character, efforts, and spirit are to be commended; but technically, it could be improved with some editing.

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