Bridging Cultures, and Taking Arabic to Iowa

January 2, 2008


Source: The New York Times

Zahra Al-Attar drove down the two-lane highway from Iowa City to her morning classes here. As she entered Kalona, population 2,200 and change, she rolled past the harness shop and the veterinary clinic, those reminders of her dislocation. She noticed, too, a horse-drawn buggy on the shoulder, an unexpected cue for memory.

When she was growing up in Baghdad nearly 40 years ago, she had ridden a similar cart to school. On occasion, the driver would let her hold the reins. Here and now, the buggies belong to the Amish. And into their part of Iowa, she had come to teach Arabic.