Author Archive

Raju’s Roti

Posted on: February 14th, 2013 by nptnextdoorneighbors 1 Comment

Storyteller Raju Dahal shares two of his favorite Nepali foods, Momo and Roti, traditionally served at ceremonial events.

Storytellers: Videos Produced by High School Students for American Graduate Project

Posted on: October 18th, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

For several months now, we have been involved in the exciting nationwide project American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen. A few weeks ago, we aired Translating the Dream, a documentary that looks at the unique challenges of immigrant and refugee students in Nashville schools. But as we have learned with the Storytellers project, there is great value in having the community create their own stories, in their own voice.

So, we have been collecting stories from high school students to get their firsthand perspectives on the issues that matter to them most. We want them to answer questions like, what motivates students to stay in school? What factors contribute to the decision to drop out of high school? What are the day-to-day struggles you face- including those dealing with academic hardship, bullying, lack of motivation? And for our immigrant and refugee storytellers: what are your unique struggles, and what is keeping you in (or distancing you from) school?

In the video below, Kenyan refugee Frahia, who is in 9th grade, talks about being bullied in school when she first came to America and didn’t know any English, and how falling in love with reading kept her in school.

And you can view all of the student-produced stories we’ve gotten so far in the playlist below.

Storytellers: Inside a Hindu Naming Ceremony in Nashville

Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

Many cultures and religious traditions have rituals around the birth of a child. For many families who have settled in a new land, preserving these rituals is of utmost importance, even if only in the privacy of their own home.

In this video, storytellers Kamal Bastola and Prakash Subedi give us an intimate look at a Bhutanese family conducting a naming ceremony for a recent newborn baby, a traditional ceremony in Hindu custom.

Storytellers: `Am I the Terrorist?` by Hayat Abudiab, Whose TN Mosque was Firebombed

Posted on: August 16th, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors 1 Comment

In the past two weeks, there have been eight attacks on houses of worship across the nation, seven of which were mosques. Some have been vandalized, acid bombed, shot at, and on August 6th an Islamic center in Joplin, Missouri got burned to the ground after being damaged by an arson fire the month before.

This picture seems all too familiar for Muslim American storyteller Hayat Abudiab, who created this video about what she experienced when her Columbia, TN mosque was firebombed in 2008.

Storytellers: First Ever Storytellers Bootcamp was a Great Success!

Posted on: July 31st, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

Last week, we had our very first Storytellers Bootcamp, where in three days local immigrants picked a story idea, gathered footage and edited it all into a video. Congratulations to everyone that participated–we all learned a lot from each other and we are very proud of your hard work! You can check out this story on our Media Update blog about the training and view some of the videos.

And here’s a great video about the bootcamp itself from veteran storyteller Alice Gatebuke (reminds us a little of ‘The Office’!).

Storytellers: Pope Shenouda`s passing by Sam Mounier

Posted on: May 22nd, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

As Nashville Public Television prepares to unveil the latest installment in our Next Door Neighbors series -featuring Nashville’s Egyptian community – we wanted to share a Storytellers submission by NPT intern Sam Mounier.

Sam was a great help in the production of the latest Next Door Neighbors documentary.  As a member of the Egyptian community, he helped connect us to more than a few people, translated conversations, kept us informed of important events and even took us to his mom’s house for some delicious food.

During production of the Egyptian program, Nashville’s large contingency of Coptic Orthodox Christians suffered the tragic loss of their Pope.  Pope Shenouda, the 117th for the Coptic Orthodox Christian Church, played an important role in the growth of the Church in the United States.

We asked Sam to share how the loss of Pope Shenouda was felt by the Egyptian community in Nashville.  Here is what he had to say.


Next Door Neighbors:Egyptians premieres Wednesday, May 23rd at 9pm on NPT.  You can also watch the completed program that same day online at our website.

I hope you will tune in.


(Storytellers) Inside an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Posted on: April 20th, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

This video takes us inside the Nashville home of two Eastern Ethiopian women hosting a coffee ceremony, one of the most enjoyable events in Ethiopian culture. Storyteller Nejib Adem is their honorary guest as the women show him the steps it takes to prepare for the gathering. Prepare to be hungry by the end of watching this…

(Storytellers) The Forgotten Legacy: Kurdish Handicraft Weaving

Posted on: March 29th, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

This thoughtful piece by storyteller Kasar Abdulla introduces us to the Kurdish art of weaving. From socks and purses to hats and rugs, Kurdish women take pride in preserving the tradition of making intricate crafts with their own hands. Abdulla delves deep into the significance of the practice in difficult times, explaining that the women “relied on their weaving talents in refugee camps; they would turn something as simple as a potato sack into new purses and exchange it for food with the Turks.” A must-see story.

(Storytellers) Coming to America: A Filipino Immigrant`s Story

Posted on: March 6th, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

One thing we’ve found in common with everyone we’ve spoken to through Next Door Neighbors is that they each have a unique and interesting story to tell of how they got to this country.  In this story, Megan Macaraeg, originally from the Philippines, tells of her family’s journey of leaving their native country during martial law and starting a new life in the U.S.  The end of this heartwarming video is not what you’d expect…

(Storytellers) Young and Exiled: Rwandan Woman Flees Violence

Posted on: February 14th, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

This video, produced by Rwandan storyteller Alice Gatebuke, tells the story of Honorine, a woman who lived through the war and genocide in Rwanda. She was part of a group of thousands who had to escape by foot to neighboring countries. The story is part of our ongoing effort to have Nashville women tell the war stories of other female immigrants and refugees in Nashville as part of the Women, War, and Peace project.

(Storytellers) Immigrants` Unique Challenges Inspire Them to Get Involved

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

In this video, storyteller Maria Emilia Borja asks Nashville immigrants the question: ‘what personal experiences inspired you to get involved with your community?’ The answers may surprise you, and touch upon heavy subjects dealing with the unique challenges that immigrants face in adjusting to American society.

(Storytellers) Bhutanese-Nepali Hospitality: Making Milk Tea

Posted on: January 3rd, 2012 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

Go inside the home of a Bhutanese family in Nashville as they welcome guests with their customary Bhutanese-Nepali milk tea. Yam Kharel discusses hospitality norms in the culture, and even shows us how to make the delicious drink. A perfect treat as the weather finally gets colder here in the city…

(Storytellers) Ma`aza the Ethiopian Baker

Posted on: December 12th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

In this video, storyteller Nejib Adem introduces us to Ma’aza, an Ethiopian woman who came to Nashville in 2005 and specializes in baking cakes. Her dream is to open a bakery in Nashville one day. For now, she takes orders from her friends and family and makes her delicious cakes in her own personal kitchen. Mmmm…

(Storytellers) Women, War and Peace: A Rwandan Romeo and Juliet Story

Posted on: November 29th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

As part of our Women, War and Peace project, some of our female storytellers are telling the war stories of women in Nashville.  In this moving video produced by Hannah Mendez, meet Betty Kayitesi, a Rwandan refugee whose life took a very unexpected turn when she married someone from the “other side”.

(Storytellers) Recent Storyteller Community Trainings

Posted on: November 7th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

We recently held two trainings for new storytellers. One was at our existing partner organization, Progreso Community Center, and the other was at a new organization we’ve added as a hub: Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE)!  We’re very excited to have NICE on board to house equipment and trainings for the community that they serve.   We featured the story of how NICE, formerly the Sudanese community center, came to be in our last episode of Next Door Neighbors.  Our transition to include NICE in the Storytellers project seemed like a natural fit, and we can’t wait to see the stories that come out from this new partnership!

Burundi refugee Esai Ndemeye learns how to edit footage on iMovie

Betty Barrios, from Mexico, and Arturo Bautista film b-roll for their

practice videos using a flipcam


(Storytellers) A Step-by-step Guide to Making Churros!

Posted on: October 24th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

Leslie and Adriana Acosta teach us how to make a sugary, fried, Latin American favorite: Churros. Bring on more food videos, storytellers…we have to bulk up for the winter!

Prepare to be salivating by the end of this…

(Storytellers) Fruits of Our Labor: A Look Inside a Kurdish Home Garden in Nashville

Posted on: October 12th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

This past spring, storyteller Kasar Abdulla shot this story about the common practice of growing home gardens in the Kurdish culture. “You will find that almost every Kurdish family in Nashville, Tennessee has a vegetable and fruit garden; not only because it’s symbolic and reminds them of Kurdistan, but they enjoy the delicious fruits and vegetables produced by their own hands,” she says.

(Storytellers) Wilmer`s Shop: Latino Immigrants Find Their Niche

Posted on: October 4th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

Meet Wilmer, an immigrant from Honduras who came to Nashville and started his own auto body shop. Since establishing his body shop, he has paid it forward and helped other Latino immigrants earn a living working as mechanics.

(Storytellers) An Iraqi Refugee Comes to America

Posted on: September 28th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

In this story, meet Hayder Abduljabbar and his family, who recently arrived in Nashville from Iraq. With the help of his case worker, Hayder goes shopping for essentials and explains his feelings about settling in America so far.

(Storytellers) Women, War, and Peace screening with Abigail Disney

Posted on: September 23rd, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

NPT is starting another exciting project around the 5-part PBS series Women, War, and Peace.  We’ll be holding screenings in the next several weeks, and we’re also having some female storytellers do stories on Nashville women who have experienced war.  Our first event is tomorrow with the series producer, Abigail Disney.  We’ll screen clips from the series and also debut three new storyteller videos on the topic.  So come on out tomorrow afternoon, and look out for new Nashville Women, War and Peace stories on this blog very soon!


(Storytellers) NPT Starts Not in Our Town Initiative

Posted on: September 19th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

NPT is pursuing a new project this month called Not in Our Town, a series and movement to stop hate and highlight towns that are trying to create more inclusive communities. As part of this initiative, we’re holding community events and screenings around Nashville between 9/11-9/21 and calling these the 10 Days of Peace. You can find out about the various events that have taken place and are going to take place at the website

We’ve decided to add a new layer to our Storytellers project. Our storytellers are going to be doing additional stories on the theme of Not in Our Town, including covering some of the 10 Days of Peace events.

Here’s a video that a few of our Somali storytellers produced a few months ago that reflect this theme greatly: hundreds of Nashvillians gathering at Legislative Plaza to protest a bill that many believe would single out Muslims in Tennessee:

Refugee Elders Experience

Posted on: September 6th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

In this story, meet various refugees in Nashville participating in Catholic Charities’ Refugee Elders Program. This program provides resources, such as citizenship and English language training, to new arrivals. Nejat Derakshani, a refugee from Iran, discusses fleeing persecution from his country and the many opportunities he is finding in his new home.

Stonebrook Apartments on the Weekends

Posted on: August 29th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

Naresh Dahal and Yam Dangi fill us in on what’s happening at a particular apartment complex where most of Nashville’s newly arrived Bhutanese community lives.

Refugee Handicrafts at the Farmer’s Market

Posted on: August 24th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

A new booth has opened up at the Nashville Farmer’s Market: refugee handicrafts. For the first time, refugee women are selling their hand-made products and making a profit off of them. This video details the various pieces they are selling, and new concepts the refugee women must explore as self-employers, such as making products that are more marketable to the general public.

Some Background on the Storytellers Project

Posted on: August 16th, 2011 by nptnextdoorneighbors No Comments

A few years ago, Nashville Public Television started the documentary series Next Door Neighbors, which follows the stories of various immigrant communities who now call Nashville their home. While producing the series, we realized that there were so many immigrants and refugees in Nashville with untold stories–too many for us to ever possibly tell.  Afterall,  Nashville has become an unexpected resettlement hotspot, and over 90 different languages are spoken in Metro Nashville Public Schools!  So, we had an idea: what if we could equip and train immigrants to tell their own stories?

Several months, a handful of trainings, and a blog later, the Next Door Neighbors: Storytellers project does just that.  We’ve distributed flip cams, laptops with the editing program iMovie on them, and additional production equipment to a handful of immigrant “storytellers” through the help of our three partner organizations– Catholic Charities, Progreso Community Center, and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.  These organization serve as “hubs” where storytellers can access and check-out the equipment, and receive our production trainings. You can read more about this in our about section.

My name is Soraya Salam and I manage the Storytellers project and conduct trainings, with a lot of help from others in our production department–mainly Will Pedigo, producer of Next Door Neighbors, when he’s not out busy making another amazing, award-winning episode [/shameless plug].   Our training motto is, simply, “learn by doing”–we try to speak as little as possible, and let the trainees go out, shoot with the cameras, and come back and edit their “practice” videos with our guidance.  After the initial training, I keep in close contact with all of the storytellers to check on their progress, brainstorm story ideas, and answer any questions they may have during the production process.

I’m excited to launch this blog to showcase the beautiful work of our immigrant and refugee community.  We have storytellers representing numerous countries–including Somalia, Bhutan, Mexico, Ethiopia, Kurdistan, the Phillipines, Iraq, Equador, Sudan–and the list keeps growing.

As one immigrant storyteller once put it, “We don’t have a lack of stories; we just lack the skills to tell them.”

Next Door Neighbors: Storytellers aims to fix that problem and give the immigrant and refugee community a voice.