“I’m from Iraq. It’s not that bad. We’re not all bad people.”

At Portland Airport, Rasool rolled up in a red Prius. He jumped out to help with my bags. He wore movie-star style sunglasses, and smiled at me with pearly white teeth.

His English, however, was limited. After a while, I found out he was driving for Lyft full time while trying to learn English. He had moved to Portland about a year ago, and told me about a Center that helped refugees and immigrants adapt to life in the US when they came to the city, and how he hadn’t spoken a word of English before the classes they gave.

I asked him, “Where are you from originally?”

“I’m from Iraq,” he responded haltingly, but cheerfully. “Lots of people know Iraq!” he added. “It’s not that bad. We’re not bad people.”

“Is your family here with you in Portland?”

“No…only my brother and his family. She cannot come, my mother.” He fell silent for a bit. “She’s old. She wants us to come here, but she stay in Iraq.”

“Did you follow your brother here?”

“Haha,” he laughed. “No. My brother, he come to America first!”

“Oh, that’s good.”

“ The first place he went to was Alabama! He hated it.”

“Did he say why?”

“He said, horrible! Then, he moved to Nebraska.”


“He said, it is so cold here! America is horrible! I want to go back to Iraq!” Rasool laughed heartily.

“Then he moved to Portland?”

“Yes–And here, it is good. So I come when he told me it is good. I am not going to Alabama or Nebraska! I did not come to America to freeze to death!”

About the artist

Wanni Wang, artist

Wanni Wang is an artist/illustrator based in Honolulu, Hawaii (USA). A transplant from Hong Kong from many moons ago. Through drawing people and things to manifest the stories in between, she uncovers the underlying common thread of humanity. Her recent works #DaBusPplHNL depicts ppl she encounters on her commute by bus or walk. View her ongoing #100DaysOfTiltBrush project of creating images in virtual reality on instagram @wwanni