Appendix – Mira Yusef
I could not have had a better person assigned to do an oral history project with. Although, I can admit, I was nervous about meeting someone new to interview, especially since the first time I spoke to her in person I was asking about all sorts of very personal details of her life. From the moment I met Mira at Monsoon though, I was able to connect and listen to the story of a journey, not a literal journey, but a life journey that has shaped Mira into the fascinating woman that she is today. Mira made me feel very comfortable and at ease during my project, and this was truly a major blessing. Mira’s story encompassed history, comparison of culture, and personal stories that made this project very educational and entertaining at the same time. Even though Mira’s move to the United States was not emphasis in our interviews, (contrary to the books we read in class, notably “Enrique’s Journey”) I could tell that shifting from her home culture in the Philippines to the culture of the United States was a large transition.
One part of Mira’s story that has resonated with me is the fact that after moving to the United States, Mira decided to go back to the Philippines to do research on girls in terrible environments. Many of the stories we have read in class speak on how someday people would like to go back to their home countries, but often never get the chance for a variety of reasons. That was not the case when interviewing Mira. Mira explained to me how different her home country was from when she left, and this was in part because she had a religious conversion in the United States that put her on the oppressed side while in the Philippines. For me as a Christian, it saddened me to hear about Christians mistreating Muslims in other parts of the world, and Mira made it evident how this oppression can lead to many serious problems.
Mira’s story is a story about goal setting and achievement. I could tell how driven of a person Mira is based on looking at what she wanted to accomplish, and what she did accomplish. Mira’s work at Monsoon is all about progress and helping people, and I know that she is making a difference for many women in Central Iowa because of her work. “The personal is political” Mira told me, and I learned from her that every decision we make and every action that we perform is a statement of what we believe in. Mira’s work, relationships, and goals all reflect the stance she takes on issues such as gender equality and women’s rights. Although Mira and I never discussed where she wants to be down the road, I know that she has great plans for herself and Monsoon, and I have no doubt that she will be thriving personally and politically for the rest of her life.