This summer we are collaborating with Dr. Xiumei Pu in her Project, "Mountains and Stories: Building Community Among Asian and Pacific Islander Refugee and Immigrant Families in Salt Lake Valley," with the support of a Whiting Public Engagement Programs Seed Grant. Anchored in the theme of mountains, the project consists of a twelve-part podcast, a documentary, and a series of story tellling events, the next of which will be a group hike in the Wasatch Mountains (October 23, 2021). It is our hope that these efforts will amplify the environmental voices of Asian and Pacific Islander refugee and immigrant communities, and spark more public interest in thinking about the connection between culture, identity, and the natural environment. You can listen to previous episodes here on the IMR Podcast website.
At the heart of the project is a podcast series featuring the life and work of twelve storytellers who come from a range of age groups, occupations, and ethnic and racial backgrounds. Some of them are born in the United States; many of them are born in another Asian country or Pacific Island and immigrated to the US at a young age. Their stories show fascinating complexities of immigration routes and histories, incredible cultural richness and resilience, and long-lasting contributions of the Asian and Asian Pacific Islander communities to the social life and cultural landscapes of Salt Lake Valley and the broader Utah.
This week we're sharing Obaid Barakzai's story. Obaid Barakzai is originally from Kabul, Afghanistan. He is Afghan by nationality, Pashtun by ethnicity, and a mountaineer by heart. He has a special profound connection with the mountains in Utah because they remind him of home. He is now a rising senior studying International Political Economy (IPE) with Honors at Westminster College. He has been passionately involved on campus, including as Student Body President for the 2020-2021 school academic year. He is passionate about equity and inclusion efforts on campus and beyond and loves mountaineering, learning languages, and making all kinds of tea.
Jeff Nichols and Brent Olson co-direct the Institute for Mountain Research and our 2018-2019 Mountain Fellows are Katie Saad and Naomi Shapiro. Our theme song is “Home” by Pixie and the Partygrass Boys.. As Naomi likes to say, “They are awesome and you should check them out.”
The Institute for Mountain Research is located on the ancestral and traditional lands of the Ute, Goshute, and Shoshone Peoples.