“I Am America,” award-winning poet reflects on life as immigrant in Columbus
Larry Smith’s six-word memoirs are an exercise designed to cut through the extraneous, and find the fundamental truths at someone’s core in a provocative, intriguing, and immediate way.
So when Sara Abou Rashed wrote the six-word sentence above at a workshop for teens led by Smith at the Thurber House in 2015, he knew he had found someone special—but just how special, was still yet to be discovered.
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A lifelong poet, Rashed began addressing issues of place and identity in Arabic before relocating to the U.S. Once she learned English (accomplished, in part, by translating the words to Homer’s Odyssey, one of her first reading assignments at Centennial), her poetry shifted languages, eventually coming to the attention of Larry Smith, founder of the Six Word Project, who’s been a staunch advocate ever since.
Rashed has shared poetry and told her story at TEDx events and other conferences in places including New Orleans, Cincinnati, New York City and in Boston, at Harvard University’s Public Policy and Leadership Conference. She will speak in September in Athens, Greece, at the Athens Democracy Forum. READ MORE »
Sara Abou Rashed is a poet. She started writing when she was 8 years old living in Syria, penning poems in Arabic. When, as a teenager, she moved with her mother to Columbus, she learned English and immediately began writing poems in her new language, eventually winning the Columbus District Poetry Slam. READ MORE »
Abou Rashed “is probably the most natural storyteller I’ve ever worked with,” Smith said. “Some people have a gift and she has a gift.” READ MORE »
A young woman addresses her experience with war, immigration and finding home in a new one-woman play. Discover a new film festival in Columbus dedicated to issues important to veterans and military families.
Denison University second-year student Sara Abou Rashed was exposed to violence, war and hatred at a young age growing up in Syria.
The 19-year-old was faced with an identity crisis when she moved to the U.S. She now takes her story of immigration and identity to the stage for a one-woman show, “A Map of Myself: A 60-Minute, One-Woman Revolution on War, Immigration, Language, Home, History, and Everything in Between.” READ MORE »
At 19 years old, Sara Abou Rashed has known violence, war, and hatred at an intimate level. The Denison University student and Syrian refugee now uses this knowledge to write and perform poetry.
She started writing poetry at eight years young in Arabic and now Abou Rashed is performing solo, “A Map of Myself: A 60-Minute, One-Woman Revolution on War, Immigration, Language, Home, History, and Everything in Between,” in Columbus in the upcoming weeks.
“Truly something for us all to behold”
“It can’t be easy being onstage alone. Perhaps particularly as a 20-year-old immigrant who has never studied acting or theater. But if you went to a middle school that was shaken by bombs, if you left your beloved home country expecting to return but were told that would be untenable, if you arrived in the United States as a young teenager and subsequently opted to write about your experiences at a time when the President himself has stoked anti-Muslim sentiment, well, it would seem acting courageously might well come naturally.” READ MORE
Sara took us from laughter to tears
“I was afraid to breathe for the entirety of the show for fear I would miss a single word. Sara took us from laughter to tears and opened our eyes to her life experiences.”
A captivating storyteller and a strong spirit
“I so appreciate the fact that I could laugh and cry. Sara Abou Rashed, is a captivating storyteller and a strong spirit whose story is one that more people need to know. I am a second generation American. My grandparents, on both sides, never shared their story coming here. Thank you Sara, for helping me understand what it might have been like for them.“
A prodigy from a divine place
“One of the most moving, intellectually, soul-awakening and brilliantly delivered living word stories I’ve ever experienced. Sara, you are a prodigy from a divine place., Larry, you have wrought a wonderful, changing experience.”
Eloquence, honesty and courage
“As expected, Sara’s words were moving, but what moved me more were the layers of her performance, the nuances of her props and her use of media, the way she delivered something so difficult in a remarkably beautiful way. With her words and her presence—her eloquence, honesty and courage—she dismantled deeply ingrained narratives in a gentle and human way. In short, I wish every single person in this country can hear Sara Abou Rashed.”
a magnificent gift to the world
“To some A Map of Myself will be a mirror; the others a window. Larry Smith, thank you for your vision, your trust and for believing this with all your heart. You see Sara Abou Rashed the way I do: as this brilliant young lady with a magnificent gift to the world: her words and stories. And because of it, we are all better.”
Two of the best storytellers of our time
“Two of the best storytellers of our time. We are lucky to have Sara Abou Rashed and Larry Smith in our community.
One of the most powerful voices in America right now
Sara Abou Rashed is one of the most powerful voices in America right now. Her story—coming to America from Syria, teaching herself English by translating every word of The Odyssey and becoming such an accomplished poet and storyteller before graduating high school—is one that every American can either relate to or should hear. In the show, she asks: What does it really mean to be home? She helped me understand that I never had to question it. Even though I moved around a lot as a kid, I always knew my home, always found a place of acceptance. It’s a question so many of us have never had to think about profoundly as Sarah, her family, and so many other seeking refuge in America.”
Tremendous and Transformative
A Map of Myself is tremendous and transformative. I’m in awe of Sara Abou Rashed’s talent and poise, and so proud of her and Larry Smith for creating this moving play about her journey to America. Bravo!”
Powerful voice, an inspiration
“Sara Abou Rashed is a powerful voice, an inspiration.”
She is a voice for those who do not have voices
“Sara’s story is powerful, and to see the way she brings it to life is equally explosive. By wrestling with language, it is through her art that she has now given birth to a new language, one that invites us into her story, her world, but also the world of so many in our community. She is a voice for those who do not have voices.”
I don’t know how she did it
“I don’t know how she did it. Sara Abou Rashed and I have very little in common. But through A Map of Myself I found myself in her shoes, in her head, and in her heart…and left with hers in mine. Based on the response of the audience, it was a shared experience. That she is standing there, speaking perfect English, accomplished beyond her years or any expectations of her as a new American is worthy of an audience in and of itself. However, it is the comfort and discomfort she so freely shares, and the grace with which she navigates both the pain and passion of her life so far that brought the room to its feet. Sara’s map led her to Columbus. We are all better for it.”