Ghaith Al Juboori, an Iraqi student, was a senior in high school studying for a big exam in the hall of his family’s home when he heard a sudden noise.
His mother went to check on the sound, assuring him he should stay put and keep studying. It wasn’t until he heard neighbors gathering that he wandered outside and saw what happened: His grandfather, who lived nearby, had died.
“The moment that I realized he was gone, that there was nothing I could do to bring him back, that was the most pain I’ve felt in my entire life,” says Al Juboori, recalling the memory in an episode of “Let Me Tell You a Story,” a new podcast from Wayne State University that features true, personal tales told by Iraqi students recorded in Detroit.
Twenty one Iraqi college students came to Wayne State for three weeks over the summer to learn about American culture and democracy. They were here as part of the Iraq Young Leaders Exchange Program, an opportunity sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and funded by the U.S. Department of State.
While in Detroit, the students worked on leadership and communication skills. As part of the curriculum they put together a podcast. Colleen Ezzeddine is the communication faculty member who worked with the students on the storytelling project.
“The podcast will give you an insight into Iraq’s young leaders of today and what’s on their minds,” says Ezzeddine.
Each episode features one of the students telling a personal story from their life. Ezzeddine says the topics touch on death, medical challenges, what to do after high school and more.
“The students mentioned that they wanted Americans to know that, on one hand they’re just like anybody else. And on the other hand they’re people that have gotten the short-end of the stick in certain situations but that they’re very dedicated, as one of them put it, to ‘make Iraq great again.’”
Click on the player at the top of this page to hear WDET’s Laura Herberg interview Ezzeddine about the podcast.
The podcast, “Let Me Tell You A Story” is out now. Listen to all 21 episodes online here or on Spotify.