Stories Bring the World to City Fair

Portland Press Herald (Portland, ME), June 3, 2007


Indonesia native Ina Demers, who came to the United States in 1974, was one of eight individuals presenting “Journey Stories” as part of the first-ever Bayside International Fair and Market. She described to the crowd the oppression her family faced, being Chinese in Indonesia in the 1960s, and her struggles to adapt to a new culture in Maine.

The storytelling was one aspect of Saturday’s international fair in the now-vacant Portland Public Market building on Cumberland Avenue. The fair also featured a large flea market, music and dances by performers from local immigrant communities, and workshops on practical matters such as home ownership and immigration reform updates.

The fair, which was put on by the Bayside Neighborhood Association, gave new immigrant communities a chance to connect in a multicultural environment, said Dory-Anna Waxman, community organizer with the neighborhood association.

Another “Journey Stories” participant, Marwa Abdulla, spoke about adapting to life in Portland after moving from Darfur in 2004. “I want people to learn about why we’re here,” she said.

Abdulla came to Portland with her father and a brother, but left behind her mother and six siblings. She knew no English when she arrived.

Abdulla said she had to leave Darfur in order to have a future. In Darfur, she was pulled out of school in fifth grade when the war started.

She plans to go to college to become a doctor and eventually return to Darfur to help others.

Subjects Covered: diversity training, education, storytelling festivals

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