Interview conducted with Estabraq Noori on November 17, 2017 at Kentucky Refugee Ministries Office in Lexington, Kentucky. Student interviewers were Je’Rome Brown, Dontae Duff, Anaya Franklin and Jajuan Stevens.
Je’Rome: Today is November 17, 2017 my name is Je’Rome Brown and I am conducting an interview with JaJuan Stevens, Anaya Franklin, and Duff… I mean Dontae Duff. We are interviewing Estabraq Noori who came to the United States as a refugee. This interview is for a research project on former refugees living in central Kentucky on behalf of Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy, a school in Lexington, Kentucky. This interview is being monitored by my teacher Ms. Lisa Henry.
JaJuan: Since we know your name, um how old are you?
Estabraq: I’m, uh, I was born on March 1976, so I think that’s going to put me on like 42 maybe? 41?
Dontae: Did you say March?
Estabraq: March 28 1976… Yeah, it’s like maybe 42.
Lisa: 41, because I was born in 76, and I just turned 41.
Estabraq: (laughs) So there you go. (laughs)
JaJuan: Um, where were you born?
Estabraq: I was born in Baghdad, Iraq, Baghdad
Dontae: What was your family like?
Estabraq: We were a small family was like, I had one brother with me, that time, he’s older than me, like 4 years ahead and uh, I have a mom and dad with me that time, and that’s it pretty much, just 4 persons. We’re kind of like uh, just regular family, like example, in American families, like a middle-class family, just like normal, regular people.
Dontae: Uh, how big was your house?
Estabraq: Our house was uh, we used a metric system so it’s like uh, 300 meters, so if you include to I mean, it might come up with a different number. But I think maybe, it’s kind of uh, like 2,000 square maybe. I’m just guessing, and it was uh, 3 bedrooms, with 1 living room, 1 guest room, and 1 kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and we have a backyard and front yard. So standard house.
Dontae: Did you have any pets?
Estabraq: Uh, we don’t have pets at that time because it’s just religious reason we cannot have uhh pets in the house, uh but we can have them like in the yard but they cannot go inside the house. But even that time it’s not something regular like we have pets around our houses families doesn’t do this if we do this were going to be looking weird.
Dontae: Do you have a pet now?
Estabraq: I don’t. (laughs) We didn’t use to have -- like there’s another thing just not because of the religion things it’s just like I have allergic to cats umm I didn’t try with dogs yet, but if I be near to cats I love but it’s very super allergic but still like the main thing is like we didn’t use to live with pets that’s the main thing.
Anaya: Did you attend school in your home country?
Estabraq: I did I have uhh attend high school and primary schools and attended uh colleges as well and I have a bachelor degree as well.
Lisa: What was your bachelor’s degree in?
Estabraq: My bachelor was on uh [UNKNOWN] medicine, general [UNKNOWN] surgery and medicine. Yeah it was taken and granted in 2001 then I had to go through employment uhh for I went to military one year and then I go for employment for another year so pretty much in 2003 I was done.
Je’Rome: Okay what was your best childhood experience?
Je’Rome: Okay, what was your best childhood experience?
Estabraq: Well that um question is umm I mean there’s a lot of things that you can answer for this question, but I think the best thing it was like I guess the school was my best thing at that time. Yeah going to school, meeting the friends, and um like it’s almost taking most of my day. Then go back home, then do homework. So pretty much we had like the whole world living at that age is the school. At that time we didn’t have like many electronics – isn’t like today. There’s no cell phones, there’s no video games, there’s nothing to do pretty much. So it’s just a TV. So we pretty much get into the school pretty much like there’s nothing else to do. We might play football or something.
Je’Rome: Sometimes sports?
Estabraq: Yeah, just sports though.
Dontae: What was your favorite food to eat?
Estabraq: Umm at that time or like now?
Estabraq: Both? Okay so we eat a lot of, I mean the main food for us or the main source of carbohydrates… let’s put it this way. The main source of carbohydrates is rice so uhh we do eat rice as uh like the main source of food. We can eat something else with the rice. We don’t eat it just plain, so we mix it with uh chicken. We eat it with meat. We eat it with vegetables. But it has to be rice at least once a day. Morning eats we eat usually like eggs, dairies this kind of stuff. so cheese, maybe? But we don’t eat like more like the American diet. I think we eat cereals? In the morning something like this right cereals and milk? Stuff we don’t eat. We just eat cheese, eggs like something real. Usually we don’t eat dinner -- like if we have salad maybe or something diet, fruits maybe.
Je’Rome: So what caused you come to the United States?
Estabraq: It um I came as a refugee of war, and uh this was, I was that meaning would say a refugee or war like a person had to leave his country because of the worst situation. So his life became in danger so we had to move on to another place. And uh that place could basically uh a temporary stage or a stage which you have to apply through United Nations. So you’re going to be in a different place before you end up in the final destination. So this process is very long.
Dontae: Did your family come with you?
Estabraq: Umm, I came by myself because that time when I left Iraq I was alone. And we kind of separate like every person goes in a different direction. So uh I was uh I met my mom uh 2 years ago after a long separation… since 2006 up to 2016. Yeah so it’s almost 10 years. Uh I haven’t seen my brother yet so...
Lisa: What about your father?
Estabraq: He passed away in 2014 so I couldn’t see him.
Dontae: You said 2016 you saw your mom?
Estabraq: Yeah, she came United States as uh a tourist visa. Then uh she stayed and she applied for asylum, and she has a still pending process. It’s been 2 years, and it’ll probably take another year.
Lisa: Is she in Iraq?
Estabraq: She’s right now with me in Lexington.
Lisa: Oh, okay.
Estabraq: Yeah, she was lucky to have a visit visa before the United States administration changed with a new government, new president. So she was probably the last in the 2 months got approval for her visa. So we can say she was lucky because at this time we could not get one for my brother. So he’s still in Baghdad. Yeah.
Lisa: Are you able to talk with him or email him?
Estabraq: We use uh internet pretty much since that time up to now to communicate yeah.
Anaya: Can you describe to me your experience… your experience in your hometown?
Estabraq: Like what?
Anaya: Your experience in your umm home country.
Estabraq: Experience in what? Or life in general?
Estabraq: Yeah, well. It’s different, it’s different kind of life. Like that is a different culture, and its completely different way of living. Like we do our daily life completely different than what we do here. We have uh uh we have a study routine for our week -- like we have to attend school or go to work if we’re lucky. If we have work because work is not easy to get. Most of the people they do not have work. So what they do is just hang around… they just like get groceries, go coffee or coffee shop what is it called? Like popular coffee?
Estabraq: Café. Yeah, just sit and drink some tea maybe, chatting, or watching football just because there’s no jobs available for them. And we pray 5 times a day and that takes a lot of time because we do that at a mosque. We have to go to the mosque and do the process and come back from the mosque and that’s going to take a good hour. So do this 5 times and that’s 5 hours, and the youngers usually just hang around in the market. Like market shops, just walk around. Yeah that’s pretty much the lifestyle there.
Dontae: What would happen if you stole?
Estabraq: If I what?
Dontae: Like if someone was to steal?
Estabraq: Like what?
Dontae: Umm something from the market.
Estabraq: Oh you mean like?
Lisa: I think he’s trying to ask about the legal system in Iraq.
Estabraq: Yeah like someone tried to steal something from the market.
Dontae: Yeah like they stole an orange.
Estabraq: Pretty much you will get away with it because there is a lack of police, and usually the police they just don’t come when you need them. The work of the police is uh the technique is different. They have checkpoints in specific places. They are searching for terrorists usually or guns, so they check people’s cars. They check their stuff, but usually if you’re in trouble you cannot just call police and police will just come straight to your house. It doesn’t work like this. So if you are in trouble or if you steal something if the shop owner see you then you have conflict with them. He has to get his… claim his goods back from you or probably you will get beaten up like, like if he will cut you. A lot of people will gather around you, and they will beat you. You’ll get hurt that’s just how it works.
Dontae: So it’s basically like it was run by the people?
Estabraq: Yeah, and if you run away with it, you will be lucky I mean. But if you get caught they will beat him, they will just hurt him. We don’t have like a legal system protecting what the government arrest him as a legal system. We don’t have this. It’s a legal process not yet started.
JaJuan: Umm… Were you placed in a refugee camp? If so, where was the camp?
Estabraq: Well, I wasn’t in a camp, like in a tent camp. Well, I know so many people were, but probably I was lucky enough because I had a bachelor’s degree. So I was like able to travel just like a regular traveler – getting a visa and using an airline ticket to go in a third country. But the difference is when I went to the third country with a tourist visa, they did not know like I am a refugee, so, uh, I had to overstay over the limit of the visa which is uh, 30 days, and that put me in an illegal situation in that country. And that stay I stayed for eight years – illegal staying in a country for eight years. I have no, uh, any civil rights (laughs).
Lisa: What country?
Estabraq: It was Emirates. United Arab Emirates.
Estabraq: Yeah. It’s very strict against people who stay over visa, so you can get caught by any policeman if you don’t have like a resident, a valid resident, and you would get deported immediately. If they caught you like, if you don’t show proof of resident visa.
Je’Rome: Did you say United Airway Emi…
Estabraq: Arab… United Arab Emirates… United Arab Emirates
Estabraq: It’s known as UAE.
Estabraq: But many others were not lucky as I am. They didn’t have bachelors. So they were lots of people in camps which is on the borders either with Syria or Jordan, or Turkey. But I wasn’t there just maybe because I was lucky.
Dontae: Did you have a job over there?
Estabraq: I had to work for like, um, a basic job and my pay was way less because I don’t have legal papers, and the owner of the company had to cover me up like if the police come for riding. Usually police ride companies asking for labor IDs, and the companies are supposed to show these labor IDs to the police, to show proof that all of the employees in the company are legal. So if you don’t show labor ID or a labor permit ID, that’s when you are illegal, so you can get arrested on the spot and deportation will be the solution.
Dontae: You would get deported or…
Estabraq: Deported, yeah. You will get stayed in a prison for a while, and then, uh, the process can take about three months. So for this three months, you are going to stay in a prison, a deportation prison until they finish your papers and they get your tickets. Usually, your tickets either going to be paid by your embassy of your country or some organization, so this might take a while.
Dontae: Do you have a job now?
Estabraq Noori: I work uh as a taxi driver. I do. I work in the night as a taxi driver because I’m a student as well, so, I have to study in the day and work on the weekends as a taxi driver which is Uber service.
Jajuan: Umm… when you were… when you were on your way to the United States, how long was the process?
Estabraq: The process was, uh, very slow, and uh, with me it took exactly like, uh, around even you could say exactly five years. As soon as I applied as an asylum seeker in the United Nations Office in the United Arab Emirates until I was like actually in the plane going to the United States, it’s five years.
Estabraq: Yeah, and I’m not sure how many interviews it’s just like lots of interviews with lots of departments.
Je’Rome: Okay, so how has living in the United States or Kentucky affected your life?
Estabraq: Uh, living in the United States, um, is, um, something, uh, new for me. Like I had to adapt with this new life because you are pretty much, uh, in a free community. Uh, like you have no restrictions unless you do something illegal, but, uh, like otherwise human… human life, freedom, it’s so good like you can do anything you want. And that is kind of, a little bit, uh, unusual for us because we used to live in, uh, restricted communities… like we have, uh, limits for everything we do, and there is many things we cannot do. So, we are trying to adapt to this new life.
Lisa: Where are you going to school now?
Estabraq: Now, uh, um, after three weeks I’m graduating from B.C.T.C. with an associate in science, and uh I’m pursuing a bachelor’s degree at U.K. with uh a medical laboratory science. And then hopefully if I am still in good health, I’m supposed to go for medical school.
Lisa Henry: Okay.
Estabraq Noori: Yeah, uh. So I still think they call it a pre-med major or something like this.
Lisa: Okay. So your degree wouldn’t transfer here?
Estabraq: It was transferred.
Estabraq: And there was a little technical issue with it because the credits totally transferred, but the thing is I need to get licensed to practice, and this license takes a process which is three to four years. So it’s uh still going to be uh an international bachelor’s degree, so that’s still going to be a little bit of a challenge for me to find a job with it I guess. So I have decided just to be done with from start, I aspire to build it up with American assistance at least so I’ll be more effective when I’ll be getting into real jobs.
Jajuan: Um... what do you want other people in Lexington and Kentucky to know about refugees?
Estabraq: Well that’s a very good question, and um the thing is it’s so sad for us to see like when people they get confused between refugees and terrorist and our people like they make harm because they’re just Muslims. And this is a huge mix up because this is two different things, like being a terrorist and being a person being able to hurt other people, this is against our beliefs… Muslim like it’s a peace, it’s a peaceful religion. So during this violent activities that’s against our beliefs but unfortunately so many people they just go with the media and just mix it up like when they say you are a Muslim “ they will think you’re a bad person and you’re a person that’s going to hurt somebody else.” Well this is a completely mixed up idea. So we feel sad when we go under this perception because many people sometimes they will think we’re bad guys, we’re bad people, but we’re not. We’re just regular people just like you and you and you.
Je’Rome: So would you say that like media and propaganda have shaped American society?
Estabraq: I think that the in the history of the United States, the media has like played a huge role to control people, and this is I think it’s um a way of a system, more as a system. The media has a huge impact not only on the United States, but I think on the whole world so I blame the media. I do not blame the people. I mean they should show their both side pictures. They cannot show their partial part of the picture and then they will give people a wrong perception of us.
Lisa: Do you ever consider returning back to Iraq?
Estabraq: Umm… I don’t think so at the moment because it’s very difficult once you move to, move on with your life and become part of a new nation and new country. That’s going to put you in a challenge like you can’t visit the previous country… like in which idea? You cannot visit as a visitor or you cannot visit as a part of it and if you are becoming part of another country. This kind of conflict in the thoughts make really not excited to go back I feel like it’s not something I would like to do in the future, and the other thing is uh its becoming a United States citizen is going to eliminate any possibility for me to go back because it’s not a safe environment for the U.S. citizens I think for now so far. So maybe in the future it will be a safe place. But for now it’s not safe for citizens, I mean, from the west.
Lisa: Have you established your citizenship yet or you still a permanent resident?
Estabraq: Uh, if you come out of the United States as a refugee -- I’m not sure about the other types of aliens but as a refugee you will be… I mean I can tell you about the process to become a citizen you have to stay as a 1 year of a temporary stay. They call it a permanent a I-94 stay or a temporary for a year. Then you will be able to go for a green card after one year. That’s going to be with a prior effect, a year prior effect. So after five years exactly, you will able to apply for citizenship, if you are not leaving the United States for 3 continuous years. So with my case, I supposed to be eligible to apply after a year and a half.
Je’Rome: Okay. So, how old were you when this happened? And how did if affect you mentally?
Estabraq: To be a citizen?
Je’Rome: Um, when all this happened… for you, your cause for you coming to the United States.
Estabraq: Uh… The type of lifestyle is totally different. To be like free after, just like you were in a cage… just like a bird in a cage that you set it free into the nature… So, it might be, uh, it might be troubled, or he might be acting good for a while, but then he will recognize that he is free, and once he recognize that he is free, he probably will decide not to be in a cage again because, his, his… his lifestyle is changed and it’s changed forever.
Anaya: Do you have children?
Estabraq: Uh, well, I think the application process took five years, and I spent eight years illegal in a country. So with all of the situations, my life was like fluctuating hardly, so I wasn’t able to establish a family at this time. The only three years I was stable is the last three years. (laughs) So I’m working on it. (laughs)
JaJuan: Um, like, what is your favorite thing about the United States?
Estabraq: The favorite thing about for me is like you could be anything you want. Like you could be a successful person if you want to succeed. You could be, uh, like in the bottom of the society if you decide to be this. I mean you could be anything you want. It is your decision. It is your life. You will end up on a complete wheel of fortune if you decide to be. That is the most thing I love in the United States.
JaJuan: Have you been to any other places besides Kentucky?
Estabraq: Countries? Or like…
JaJuan: Like states inside the United States?
Estabraq: The first six months I was like, uh, set free from my cage, and the first six months I travelled in the United States because I was like, uh, feeling my freedom. I want to like just drive my car and go around. So I pretty much drove everywhere and I, uh, I see almost the whole east coast, almost half of the United States which is the area I’m living in. And then I get into the school, and then my time was like, um, limited. Uh, mostly my time now is getting…doing my jobs and attending the school. But Kentucky was my favorite actually so far because the weather is just like Iraq.
Dontae: Does anybody know you are a refugee?
Estabraq: Um, some people they do, but not necessarily everyone… unless they ask.
JaJuan: Have you been stereotyped?
Estabraq: Uh, unfortunately, it happens. It’s a fact that I have to deal with – not everyday, but at least once in a while, and when this happens it doesn’t make me sad or angry, it just, uh, make me a little concerned. And usually when this happens, uh, I just turn my way, turn my face away and stay away from whatever the effect is happening. It happens.
Dontae: Have you ate a hamburger while you’ve been in the United States?
Estabraq: Uh, it’s not exactly the hamburger, uh, we do the beef burger. (laughter) So we do eat burger, uh it’s, but we have to ask if it’s beef or ham because uh we are not supposed to eat ham. So, my kind of Muslims we have a different type, like uh my type of Muslims or my tribe we eat beef in the United States as well and we eat chicken as well. It’s just the ham we cannot and the alcohol we cannot take them.
JaJuan: Is there like foods that you like or don’t like?
Estabraq: In the United States? I do like the burger and specifically the cheeseburger, especially if it’s grilled. And they call it barbecue burger, I think, or something. And, uh, I do like the pizza a lot here. I mean it’s more professional here. Uh, I think it’s even better than the Italian pizza.
Dontae: What do you put on your pizza?
Estabraq: We we actually I do a lot of pizza at home, because my mom likes pizza as well, but she’s a high blood pressure so we cannot buy them always from the market, we have to do them with low salt.
Dontae: So you have make it yourself?
Estabraq: I have to do it myself. We do it from scratch. We do the dough, we do the sauce, we do the meat, sometimes we do chicken, sometimes meat, and we use little bit of cheese. It should be like low salt. We almost do it once a week because she really like it. (laughs)
Lisa: Has your mom adjusted to living here?
Estabraq: Yes, she is, uh, she’s happy. Um, just a little bit, uh I have a little concern with her because she is not as social as before. She used to live with a very big family, and it is more social in Iraq. And this is a huge difference between Iraq and the United States. It’s… We feel it’s kind of uh, unfortunately it’s not as social as the Middle East countries, like it’s maybe because it’s crowded. It’s just like it’s more social. You can sit with the neighbors and have dinners and visit them every hour. That’s fine, but we cannot do this here. If you knock on your neighbor’s door, he’s probably not going to answer the door, or he’ll shout out, “What do you need?” (laughs)
Dontae: Did you ever hide your identity while you lived or was in Iraq?
Estabraq: Uh, hijacked?
Dontae: No, uh, hide your identity?
Estabraq: Uh, I had to because, uh, we were discriminated about because of our ethnicity, and, uh, my ethnicity was not welcome after the Iraqi Freedom Operation. So, uh, yes, we do have to hide our I.D.’s sometimes, and uh, I think my brother he had to change his I.D. to continue living peacefully, because they kill us by I.D. Like, if they see my tribe name, like *******, that’s why I would ask you to hide my name. Uh, this might be a great danger for me, if I go in a place which I’m supposed not to or a minority for my tribe.
Dontae: Have you ever watched someone being killed while or when they did that?
Estabraq: Well, uh, I’m not sure if I should talk about this because of your ages, uh I don’t think one of you is over 18, but I will ask permission from your teacher if, uh, she wants me to talk about it.
Lisa: It’s up to you. We talk about genocide in this class.
Estabraq: Ok, well we, yeah, I do, uh I do been with a lot of fights. I saw a lot of dead people, and I, I had to even run between them sometimes. So yes, I did so, a lot.
Dontae: The first time… the first time that you seen one, was you scared?
Estabraq: Yes. I was terrified.
Anaya: How old were you?
Estabraq: That time?
Estabraq: I was like… this was 10 years ago, so probably around 30.
Lisa: Why… why was your certain ethnicity targeted?
Estabraq: Well, uh, after the Operation Freedom, uh the majority of the government was flipped from, uh, Sunni to Shia – just like Democrats and Republicans in the United States – so the Shia was so upset because the Sunni was ruling for thirty years. It was Sadam Hussein, and he was discriminating them, so they were very upset about the Sunnis. And once they took the roles and they took the government, they started abusing the Sunnis. So this was like they are in charge now, so they get their revenge on the like thirty years passed away, and a lot of people get hurt from this. It’s kind of… I would call it civil war. It’s still running very hard, and it’s less than before. That’s good news. But there’s a lot of people who have died about it like in this civil war. There are lot of people dead, killed. The time I left my house, the same night I remember my dad was like telling me after we left, I left like exactly 4:30pm that was the last time I saw my dad by the way. And once I reached Jordan which was a month I called him back again to see what was going on, they said they told me militia start marching in their area, their neighborhood. They were searching for the young people and they were like collecting them on a little mini- bus and then the a couple days more I reheard all those neighbors like the boys not the girls the boys they were executed on the main roads opposite to the neighbor and that was terrifying.
Je’Rome: if you don’t mind me asking, what is your ethnicity?
Je’Rome: One more question, so in the United States we say, “Sunnis is Shiite” is it Shia is actually the t is silent?
Estabraq: It says as shit. So it’s pronounced as shit for some reason. It’s S-H-I-I-T-E (laughs) So, Shiite like shit exactly. That’s how they pronounce it in the United States. I’m not sure why. I discovered it because I wrote a lot of papers about it so it was interesting for me to know how they pronounce it. (Laughs) Uh, Sunni is like S-U-Double N-I. So, Sunni.
Dontae Duff: Have, uh, have, uh the military ever came inside your house?
Estabraq: Which military? American forces or Iraqi forces?
Estabraq: Well, we, had actually both of the forces in our house, and we have had the militias as well. So… yes, they do. The worst one was the militia forces because militia is just militia. Militia is not like regular forces. It’s just like people -- regular people – carrying guns. These people they just kick doors. You can find them over your head at any time.
Dontae: So, they just do it for the fun of it?
Estabraq: No, they’re searching for young people. Or guns. Or anything shows like you are cooperating or you are publishing propaganda for Sunnis or having guns or more than one gun. Sorry?
Dontae: So, anything that would help them?
Estabraq: Yes, like anything to help them believe that you are working against them. If you have multiple guns, what do you do with those guns? If you have a lot of ammo, what did you do with those ammo? If you have documents or papers showing that you are…
Dontae: That you are abouts to leave?
Dontae: Like abouts to leave, the papers?
Estabraq: No papers like uh there is something written in it against the government and you have to publish it between people. I’m not sure what you call these papers, propaganda papers maybe? So these kinds of papers, these are very dangerous. Because if they find a bunch with you, that’s when you are publishing it, and people are trying to turn people against them, so this can be very dangerous.
Lisa: It would be like if you had anti-Trump papers in your home, and…
Lisa: and then they would come in and say, oh, you are against our government and they could kill you.
Dontae: If that was the case, half of America would be dead already.
Lisa: Probably. (laughs)
Estabraq: (laughs) Yeah, well we have a very well established, uh, low system in America and right now in America in the vast history – If you are young, maybe you don’t know, but there was a civil war in America, and at that time it was a very bad situation, even a worse situation than in Iraq right now but that was in the past. Now it’s completely perfect, it’s like the lowest is the rules.
Dontae: Oh, I got a good question. Did you ever go to bed hungry?
Estabraq: Uh, in which time? (laughs) In which country? (laughs)
Dontae: Uh, in Iraq?
Estabraq: Uh, you could have that, yeah. If there is a dangerous situations or if there is like a conflict or a war like outside of your doors and you can’t leave the house, so you have to eat whatever’s available in the house and you cannot eat it by yourself because you have family members. So the family decide oh we are not going to have dinner today because we are going to save the food for tomorrow lunch.
Dontae: Would you say it happened to you more than once?
Estabraq: Yeah. It happens. Food was not available like every day, especially in the war.
Je’Rome: Okay, is there any other information that you would like to share with us?
Estabraq: You can ask. Uh, I am full of information. (laughs) I can talk to you until tomorrow. It was a very long war, uh, I mean I had to survive eight wars in that area, so I can talk forever. (laughs) But I will limit your questions. (laughs)
Dontae: Uh, did you ever fight in any of the wars?
Estabraq: Uh, I had to escape… uh, I had to escape, uh, a kidnapping. So, I was uh captivated for thirty days, and I had to escape it. So I did fight a person to escape. We were just getting an advantage because there were no guards on that house. So we just escaped and run away from it. Yeah. There was a conflict that happened near to the place where we were kidnapped, so the guards and everyone else was getting into the conflict. So the house was pretty much empty, so we just kicked the door and leave. We were on our way. We were more than 10… around 13 persons. Not sure where if the others lived or survived, but I survived. I’m here. (laughs)
Anaya: I forgot all my good questions.
Estabraq: You can remember.
Dontae: Uh, I got one.
Dontae: This is going to sound silly.
Estabraq: It’s fine.
Dontae: Was the toilet inside of your house or outside of it? (laughs)
Estabraq: What was that question?
Lisa: Is the bathroom inside your home or outside your home?
Estabraq: Our house was uh, more modern, so we have our toilets inside the house. But many others have theirs outside their houses because we do not have uh, like, vacuums on the toilet or flushing water so whatever is there stays there. So if this kind of toilet stays inside the house, it’s going to be very bad. It has to be like a faraway point from the house, and it should not be near to the entrance. So it’s got to be like somewhere in the back or far. There is no water cycle, so whatever is there stays there.
Dontae: Um, did you ever go through a drought?
Estabraq: Like, uh?
Dontae: Like a lack of water.
Estabraq: Yeah, yeah. It could happen. We… uh… in Iraq it is mostly a drought, like the desert is taking a lot of space from its country. So if you travel around or if you move around it’s going to be a sandy place usually. Uh, we do have a lot of sandstorms as well, like…
Dontae: I was about to ask that too.
Estabraq: Yeah. We have a lot of sandstorms where everything gets just red, red. Everything. And, uh, we have to cover our face, we have to cover our breathing, like your nose, your mouth because…
Dontae: And you have to put duct tape around your gloves…
Estabraq: We don’t care about the gloves because you can get your hand dirty, but you don’t want to inhale it. So you need to cover your… you know, you use the white or the red scarf which is famous in Arab countries. We just twist it all over the head. We just can’t see the eyes, and the eyes you could do, uh, like sunglasses if you have. If not your eyelashes are going to get like white because the sand.
Dontae: What’s your favorite color?
Dontae: Well, I’m out of questions. (laughs) I’ve just been asking whatever pops up in my head.
Estabraq: (laughs) You can ask anything.
JaJuan: What kind of sports do you like?
Dontae: He said football.
Estabraq: Uh… I… We do play, uh, it’s uh football like it’s kind of a ball.
Estabraq: I’m not sure what. Like the American football you have to carry the ball in your hand around with it… we kick it with our feet.
Dontae: Oh that’s soccer.
Estabraq: Soccer… the soccer goal. Yeah that’s uh soccer. We call it football because you are using your feet.
Lisa: The whole rest of the world calls it football. It’s just us.
Estabraq: Because you are using your foot to hit the ball, so… (laughs) But basketball is not familiar in my country. Like we don’t have it. We don’t see other people playing basketball.
Dontae: Did you play any sports while you was over there in Iraq?
Estabraq: Football mostly, and we have some silly other games, but I don’t think you’ve heard about them. Like, we use, just little glass balls, and we just play with them.
Estabraq: Marbles? You call them marbles here? Well, that’s a famous game. (laughs)
Dontae: Have you ever played…
Estabraq: I’m good at it. (laughs)
Dontae: Have you ever played with jumping jacks?
Estabraq: What is that game?
Dontae: You got a ball, and like you drop it for silver, and you spin these little metal jacks, and you got as spin as many as you can before the ball stops bouncing.
Estabraq: Uh, I don’t know about this game. We never played it.
Dontae: It gets boring after a while.
Estabraq: Is it?
Dontae: But it’s fun.
Estabraq: We never played this. We have an interesting game when we were young, maybe younger than you. Like we have, you know those covers, like the Pepsi or Coca-Cola covers?
Dontae: Uh huh.
Estabraq: We, we stack seven pieces of them. It has to be seven, and then we use a little ball or anything round, and then, uh, the guy will stand away from it and everybody will be around here (made a circulation motion with his arms). So if he hits them, and everything is apart, and everybody has to run. And then he has to put them back in and hold the ball and whoever he would hit with the ball would be the loser. So everybody has to run fast away as quick as you can. (Everyone laughs)
Dontae: So that’s basically like…
Estabraq: That’s my favorite game. (Laughs)
Dontae: Like, uh, red light green light. That game.
Estabraq: Red light, green light?
Dontae: Except it’s like the opposite.
Estabraq: Uh, maybe, I don’t know. But it was a very popular game. (laughs) We have a game that’s like baseball, but we use a stick…
Estabraq: A stick, the guy is holding a stick, and you got to throw a stick, not a ball. It’s a smaller stick. I have to catch it and hit it. (laughs) It’s not a ball it’s a stick.
Dontae: What happens if you break the stick?
Estabraq: It’s a small stick. It’s not thicker than… not that thick. Think of something like a chocolate bar.
Estabraq: Yeah, and then I’m holding the stick. So if you threw it to your friend, I have to intercept. And then you have to run around… uh… I don’t remember exactly because it was a very far time away. (laughs)
Estabraq: But I think if you lose if I intercept it. It has to reach the other party. (laughs)
Je’Rome: Okay thank you for your time Mr. Estabraq.
Estabraq: Absolutely. It’s been so special to me. (Tape ends)