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The PESLSF Oral History Project


Recognizing the importance of asking our scholarship recipients to tell their story, the PESLSF Oral History Project was established in 2010. The goal of the project is to record the stories of all of our recipients who wish to participate. All of the recorded stories will be archived in The Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine which collects material documenting the ongoing histories of diverse communities in Special Collections in the Glickman Library at the University of Southern Maine. Here, the stories of our scholarship recipients will be archived, catalogued and preserved. They will be made available now and for generations to come to anyone who would like to learn about the new Americans who arrived in Portland in the late 20th and early 21st centuries and how they felt about their homeland, their journey, and Portland, Maine, USA.

In his work, The Story of Civilization, Will Durant stated,

Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, and write poetry...The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.

PESLSF scholarship recipients traded the Indian and Pacific Ocean for the Atlantic. They shoved off from the shores of the Baltic or the Caribbean Sea heading for the shores of Casco Bay. Others, who lived along the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers migrated to the banks of the Androscoggin. They exchanged the Gulf of Mexico for the Gulf of Maine. PESLSF has given more than 150 scholarships to immigrants from more than 30 countries. We hope to learn more about their struggle, success, culture and traditions. It is the intent of the PESLSF Oral History Project to capture what happened "along the banks of the river" and share it with all.

Please click below to listen to short audio pieces from two PESLSF scholarship recipients. To hear their stories in their entirety, visit the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity at the Glickman Library at the University of Southern Maine in Portland Maine. If you are interested in interviewing some of the PESLSF scholarship recipients or turning some of the stories into articles for the newsletter, please contact Anne Grimes by clicking here.

Natalia Nigmonova Nida Ibrahim
Nida ElhagNatalia Nigmonova