Our Global Neighborhood

Courtesy Antonina Chehovska

Award-winning, Ukrainian-born soprano Antonina Chehovska wasn’t even thinking about opera until music professors at the Grand Rapids Community College noticed something special in her voice. 


Nadine Kobty-Hogg

Dr. Nadine Kobty-Hogg was born in Lebanon but had to flee with her parents because of Lebanon’s devastating civil war. Until then, Beirut was known as “the Paris of the Middle East” and Nadine notes that only war would have forced her family to leave.


Assad Al-Shamma

Steve Jobs, of Apple. Vic Atiyeh, the former governor of Oregon. NPR’s Diane Rehm. Celebrities like Paula Abdul and F. Murray Abraham. They are just a few of the many notable Americans of Syrian descent.

 


One Syrian-American who made his mark right here in northern Michigan is Assad Al-Shamma, who came to Traverse City to oversee the construction of a new harbor for the Great Lakes Maritime Academy of Northwestern Michigan College (NMC). 

Golam Rabbani / Courtesy

In 2013, Ahnaf Rabbani was a young boy attending school in Bangladesh. Within a year, that all changed.

Ahnaf’s father, Golam, was a human rights lawyer and activist for minority rights in Bangladesh. On the eve of national elections, Golam was severely beaten by supporters of the main political party in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

 

Ahnaf and his family were also threatened.

 

 

Courtesy Anibal Pepper

Shortly after arriving in the United States from Peru in the late 1960s, and despite the fact that he wasn’t a U.S. citizen, Dr. Anibal Pepper found himself "invited" by the U.S. Army to "volunteer" for service in Vietnam. 

Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio

Durkhanai Jan (DJ) was born in Pakistan, and her family always encouraged her to follow her dreams.

 

She moved to Michigan from Pakistan in 2001 and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University.