Arab American Stories

Jacksonville, Florida Ramallah Community Showcased on Radio/Video
With funding secured from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, WJCT 89.9 FM – the public broadcasting station in Jacksonville the Jacksonville Public Library System  contacted the Ramallah American Club of Jacksonville for assistance in producing a series of radio and videotaped interviews celebrating the history, culture and contributions of our local Ramallah community and other local Arab Americans.

Mirrored after a national series produced by Detroit Public Television, Arab American Stories on the First Coast included radio and videotaped interviews as well as a roundtable panel discussion each designed to foster greater understanding about Arab Americans, highlight the richness of our traditions and culture, and showcase our many contributions.

Three generations of our Ramallah community were featured and included the elders (men and women)  who chronicled their experiences coming to the U.S;  members of our first-generation who discussed growing up with the best of two cultures; and representatives of our youth  (second generation) who discussed the value of maintaining our culture and traditions for future generations.

The Jacksonville Public Library hosted the first of two public events on Wednesday, October 16.  Segments from the national series were shown and participants were asked to offer their own experiences/challenges with immigrating to the U.S., growing up Arab in an American society, and preserving our rich heritage and culture. Participants included Audi Bajalia, Ramallah Club President Donald J Bateh, Jamil C Bateh, Jamal J. Batteh, Joy Batteh-Freiha, Janice Farhat, Anwar B. Farmand and Ramallah Youth Club President Kristen Mousa.

Arab American Stories

Pictured from Left:  Jamal J. Batteh, Jamil C. Bateh, Audi Bajalia, Anwar Farmand, Donald J. Bateh, Joy Batteh-Freiha, Janice Farhat and Kristen Mousa.

On Tuesday, October 29, WJCT hosted a reception and screening of the radio and videotaped interviews that aired daily on the radio’s morning show for two weeks. More than 100 guests savored traditional mazza provided by Jason Bajalia and Casbah Café while listening to instrumental Arabic music in the background. Screenings of the local interviews were featured along with segments from the national series. Audience members were encouraged to ask questions and comment on the series. Participants from our community included Jeanette Bajalia, Abla Essa Bateh, Leila Ziadeh Bateh, Wardeh “Rose” Mussa Bateh, Chuck Farah, Eddie Farah, Suad Khalil Farah, Youth Club member and second generation Nicholas Freiha, Father Nicholas and Dr. Roxanne Louh, Kristen Mousa, Ronie Rukab, and Judge Michelle Kalil Taylor. 

Arab American Stories

Pictured From left:  WJCT Talk Show Host Melissa Ross, local Syrian businessman George Mackoul, Abla Essa Bateh, Leila Ziadeh Bateh, Wardeh “Rose” Mussa Bateh and Suad Khalil Farah.

Arab American Stories

Pictured From left:  WJCT Talk Show Host Melissa Ross, Nicholas Freiha and Kristen Mousa.

Special thanks to the Ramallah American Club of Jacksonville members Donald J. Bateh, Janice Farhat, Joy Batteh-Freiha and Leila Mousa for their assistance in compiling the list of candidates for this project; as well as Jason Bajalia and Casbah Café, Jeanette Bajalia and Women’s Worth, Fallgatter, Farah and Farah and Farmand & Catlin for their support.  For more information on the radio series visit ondemand.wjct.org/voices and to learn more about Arab American Stories visit www.arabamericanstories.org.

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