Skip to main content

Salwa Mahdi interviewed by Candy Foster, 2021 March 15

Identifier: SdArch 45. Series 2. File SdArch45-2
[Aviary] SdArch45-WAV-0002.mp3
[Aviary] SdArch45-WAV-0002.mp3

Scope and Contents

Records the reminiscences of Salwa Mahdi, a refugee from Iraqi Kurdistan. Describes fleeing Saddam Hussein’s forces in October 1996 at the age of 31 with her brother due to her work with an organization associated with the United States. Details her experience leaving family behind, the journey from Zakho to Turkey, five months spent in a refugee camp in Guam, seeking asylum in the United States, and her first residence in the United States in Erie, Pennsylvania. Describes her family and their support of women’s education. Discusses her degree in business with a focus on statistics from a university in Iraq. Mahdi describes her assimilation into American society and life in Harrisonburg. Topics discussed include women’s rights, education, the Covid-19 pandemic, multilingualism, asylum-seeking, and Iraqi Kurdish resettlement. Recounts learning English as a foreign language and fluency in Kurdish and Arabic. Discusses her multiple careers in Harrisonburg as an interpreter, hairstylist, and business owner. Recounts explosion caused by a natural gas leak at Miller Circle in Harrisonburg, Virginia on October 17, 2020, which decimated Naza Salon and Barber Shop. Mahdi also comments on her dream to become a math teacher and discusses steps to achieve that goal.


  • 2021 March 15


Access Restrictions

Collection open to research. Agreements with the interviewees govern access to Oral Histories. Interviewees have chosen pseudonyms in two of the interviews. Due to the disclosure of sensitive information, the repository has restricted one of the nine interviews.


57.7 Megabytes (1 digital file) : (.mp3)

0:40:00 Duration (HH:MM:SS.mmm)

Language of Materials



Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

880 Madison Drive
MSC 1704
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612