SUNY Orange to Host “Life Under Occupation: A Baghdad School Teacher’s Story”

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – An Iraqi school teacher, on tour in the United States to speak about the War in Iraq’s effect on middle class Iraqi families, will deliver a lecture and slide show entitled “Life Under Occupation: A Baghdad School Teacher’s Story” at SUNY Orange at 7 p.m., Nov. 19, in Orange Hall Theater.

Nesreen (last name is withheld to protect her family that remains in Baghdad), is a lifelong resident of Baghdad and a teacher at an important school in that city. As one of only 133 Iraqis to receive a U.S. visa this year, Nesreen has been on a speaking tour through the United States since August. Earlier this summer, she offered a similar presentation in Warwick. Her appearance at SUNY Orange is being organized by faculty emeritus Joan Siegel.

Nesreen will discuss how continuing violence in Baghdad is affecting the city and its education system, but she will also chronicle the impact of the violence on the family structure. Each day, street violence makes parents fearful of allowing their children to leave their houses. Almost daily, snipers of unknown political affiliations kill people in the streets and if anyone goes to their aid, the snipers kill them, too. Yet life must go on. Food must be bought and money earned to buy it.

Nesreen will also discuss the student e-mail correspondence program she and Brooklyn school teacher Bruce Wallace established four years ago to help their respective students better understand each other’s cultures and recognize their common human goals and interests. Wallace is expected to be in attendance during Nesreen’s SUNY Orange appearance.

Most recently, a group of her students formed Women of Peace. They have initiated e-mail contact with students in New York City as an extension of the original e-mail program, called the121Contact Project that Nesreen and Wallace created.

“I was brought up in an educated family,” Nesreen says. “My father was a policeman and my mother, who might be the kindest woman in the world, was a housewife. My bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature are from Baghdad University. My dream was always to be a teacher one day because I believe that teaching is a very sacred job through which one can deliver the meaning of the most important principles in life such as love, respect, friendship, and mutual understanding.

“I am glad to speak to Americans because I always wanted to share ideas and feelings with different people; people who really care for what is happening in this world. This desire intensified after the invasion of my country. I want my voice to be heard … I want to enlighten people who live beyond the borders of my country to know part of the hidden truth of violence. Through this blessed project I think I can be heard.”

In addition to Nesreen’s lecture, there will be an opportunity for those in attendance to contribute to Women For Women International, the prize-winning humanitarian organization whose work has helped women in war-ravaged countries since 1993.

For further information please contact Siegel at

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940