Iraqi students part of UMass program to share stories of their country

Staff Writer
Thursday, July 20, 2017

AMHERST — For the sixth year, Iraqi students spending part of their summer at the University of Massachusetts will share stories about their country and its many cultures during a fundraising event for the Amherst Senior Center.

The students in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, run by the UMass Civic Initiative, will be at Bistro 63 at The Monkey Bar, 63 North Pleasant St., at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Anyone is welcome to come to interact with the students and learn more about their backgrounds. A donation at the door is suggested. 

Earlier this month, the 25 Iraqi students dropped by the Senior Center, where its director, Nancy Pagano, held an information seminar explaining the need for a place where senior citizens can attend programs and get various forms of assistance.

“It’s about cultural understanding and what older people do in our country,” Pagano said.

Pagano said it has again been inspiring to learn that some of these students hope to return to their homeland to launch programs for their own elders, many of whom have less independence than their counterparts in the United States and continue to live with their families.

The Iraqi students also joined volunteers for three days delivering Meals on Wheels to Amherst residents who are shut-ins. They also participated in a potluck dinner cultural exchange at the invitation of the Treehouse Foundation in Easthampton.

The Civic Initiative, a part of the UMass Donahue Institute, has hosted groups of scholars from Iraq as part of a public policy studies program since 2010.

The visits of the Iraqis are sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.