Kim Schultz and Amikaeyla Gaston – April 21, 2013

KimAmiPrairie Talks welcomed Kim Schultz and Amikaeyla Gaston in their performance of No Place Called Home at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, 2013. The performance was followed by an audience dialogue with the performers and special guest, Hussam Al-Kayali, PhD, of Grand Forks, North Dakota. All gathered following the program to share baklava, figs, and local rhubarb punch.

In the fall of 2009, Intersections International led a delegation of eight American artists from many different disciplines on a three week fact-finding mission though Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as part of the Iraqi Voices Amplification Project (IVAP). Their goal was to use the power of the arts to call attention to one of the most pressing and under-reported humanitarian crisis issues of our time: the displacement of more than four million Iraqis as a result of the military intervention in Iraq. During their time in the Near East, the delegation entered into conversations with hundreds of refugees at community centers and in their homes. Upon their return, the artists began creating a series of artistic pieces designed to humanize the crisis and give voice to the millions of refugees whose plight has yet to enter broad public consciousness. No Place Called Home is one such piece.

Originally from Minnesota, Kim Schultz is an actress, writer and comedienne. Nationally, she has worked at The Guthrie Theatre, Childrens’ Theatre Co. Theatre de la Jeune Lune, The Chicago Improv Fest, The Brave New Workshop, HBO Comedy Showcase and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Currently residing in New York, Kim has performed at The Hamptons Shakespeare Festival, Oberon Theatre, 3LD, Themantics Group and The Zipper Factory Theatre. She also created, produced and acted in a regionally televised comedy improv show on ABC called Comedy Hotel. Kim wrote and performed a critically acclaimed autobiographical solo show performed off-Broadway called, The F Trip. And after traveling to the Middle East in the fall of 2009 with Intersections International, Kim was commissioned to write a play to draw attention to the Iraqi refugee crisis. No Place Called Home was directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde and enjoyed an off-Broadway run in NYC in the fall of 2010 and is currently touring nationally. Kim is a prize winner for a short story she wrote on Field Report, has been published at Humorpress.com, Futuretakes, CLP and is a NYC Moth storytelling champion for a story she wrote and performed about falling in love with a conman. Kim also teaches improvisation for people and organizations wishing to change their lives and laugh more.Visit www.kimschultz.net for more information about Kim.

Proclaimed as one of the “purest contemporary voices…” by National Public Radio, powerhouse Amikaeyla Proudfoot Gaston embraces the best of many types of music. Her sultry sound, as described by MTV, is “like listening to a velvet waterfall”, and her soulful, roots jazz flavor captures the listener with dynamic passion & enchanting sincerity. She has received national attention winning a multitude of music awards, including Best Jazz Vocalist, Best Urban Contemporary Vocalist, Best World Music Vocalist, and Best Debut Artist, and was named Washington D.C.’s best Female Composer in 2006, 2008 and again in 2011 for excellence in original composition. She has performed, recorded with, and travelled the world touring with many award winning artists such as Take 6, Sweet Honey In The Rock, Baba Olatunji, Mickey Hart, Pete Seeger, Esperanza Spalding, and Shiela E, and was invited to perform at the Inaugural Festival of Sacred Chanting and Singing for the commemoration of the Golden Buddha at the request and invitation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She is the founder of ICAHSI, The International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute, a non-profit organization which works in collaboration & partnerships with government, health, and non-profit environmental and social justice organizations to bring together artists and healers of all forms and from all specialties to promote healing and wellness through the arts and activism.

For more information, production history or to book the show visit www.omarwashisname.blogspot.com. For more information on the project and intersections visit www.noplacecalledhome.com.

This program was sponsored in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

North Dakota Humanities Council

Roxana Saberi – October 7, 2012

Roxana SaberiPrairie Talks welcomed Roxana Saberi, journalist, speaker, human rights advocate, and author of the book Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in IranSaberi spoke at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 7, 2012.

Roxana Saberi moved to Iran in 2003 to work as the Iran correspondent for the U.S.-based Feature Story News.  She filed reports for organizations such as NPR, BBC, ABC Radio and Fox News and was working on a book about Iranian society when she was arrested on January 31, 2009. Saberi was later sentenced to eight years in prison on a trumped-up charge of espionage. In May 2009, an Iranian court suspended the sentence, and she was released.

Since her release, Saberi has joined others in bringing attention to the situation of human rights in Iran. Saberi has spoken at several human rights events; written articles published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Chicago Tribune; and been interviewed on news programs of organizations such as Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, BBC, CNN, PRI, NPR, and C-SPAN, as well as shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Saberi has received the Medill Medal of Courage, the Ilaria Alpi Freedom of the Press Award, the NCAA Award of Valor, a POMED (Project for Middle East Democracy) Award, and an East-West Freedom Award from the Levantine Cultural Center.  She was named one of Jaycees’ 2011 Ten Outstanding Young Americans and was honored by the Japanese American Citizens League as an “Outstanding Woman.” In September 2011, she was chosen as a “commended” artist for the Freedom to Create Main Prize.

Saberi’s book, Between Two World: My Life and Captivity in Iran, was published by HarperCollins in March 2010.  Saberi was also a co-writer of No One Knows About Persian Cats, a film-documentary about underground music in Iran.

Saberi grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, the daughter of Reza Saberi, who was born in Iran, and Akiko Saberi, who is from Japan. She was chosen Miss North Dakota in 1997 and was among the top ten finalists in Miss America 1998. She graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, with degrees in communications and French.

Saberi holds her first master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and her second master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge. More information is available at www.roxanasaberi.com.

This program was sponsored in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

North Dakota Humanities Council

 

Alan Bjerga – June 3, 2012

Alan BjergaAuthor and journalist Alan Bjerga spoke on Sunday, June 3, 2012 at the Eagles Club. Bjerga is an American journalist, author of the book Endless Appetites: How the Commodities Casino Creates Hunger and Unrest, and the 2010 president of the National Press Club. He covers agricultural policy for Bloomberg News and in 2010-2011 was also the president of the North American Agricultural Journalists. In 2009 he was recognized for his work covering U.S. food aid and the famine in Ethiopia. He received awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the New York Press Club, the Kansas Press Association, the North American Agricultural Journalists, and the Overseas Press Club for this work. Before working for Bloomberg News, Bjerga won the NAAJ’s top writing award in 2005 while working for the Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau.

Bjerga, who grew up on a farm near the town of Motley, Minnesota, went to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and English literature and edited the student newspaper, The Concordian. He earned a masters degree in mass communication from the University of Minnesota, where he was the managing editor of The Minnesota Daily. Bjerga began his career with the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota) and also reported for the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Argus Leader and The Wichita Eagle (Kansas).

 

Select photographs from Tanzania and Ethiopia taken by Rugby native Jared Mack (RHS ’98) were also on display. Photographs have been donated to Rugby High School.