The Washington Post

Video: American Mosaic: Stories of our immigration

Nov 11, 2010

Shankar Vedantam and guests explore our American histories. How did you get here? Ask your questions about immigration now.

Have you immigrated or know someone who has? Would you like to be featured on American Mosaic? Please send us some information about yourself to

When Esraa Bani and her family immigrated to the United States in 1998, they landed at Dulles Airport, rented a minivan and spent 6 weeks searching up and down the East Coast for the ideal place to live. They settled on Reston, just a ten-minute drive from Dulles.

Bani was born in the Sudan and lived in Saudi Arabia until age 14, and since moving to the U.S., she has dealt with harassment, married a man who was born and raised Jewish and later converted to Islam and founded a mothers' group called "Hip Muslim Moms" (The group recently disbanded after the husband of one of the members was arrested for plotting to blow up Metrorail stations in Northern Virginia).

She also has written about her personal experiences confronting female genital mutilation, a practice still common in Northern Sudan -- but one her mother resisted when Esraa was young.
Bani, who has a master's degree in public health from the University of Virginia , now serves as a strategic planning officer for DAWN, the Diaspora African Women's Network.  And she has a 2-year-old daughter, Fatima, who will face -- and present -- a new set of cultural challenges.

Esraa's Arrival to the United States

Facing the Difficulties of Immigration

Esraa's Activism

Marriage and Raising Children in a Multicultural Home

Hip Muslim Moms

I am guessing Ms. Bani was here during her High School, College, and Grad School years. Any comments on what she thinks about our Education system. We think it's broke!

How aware do you think the average American is about your struggles and the struggles of those like you who have come to the United States? What do you do to reach out to this community and share commonalities?

Just a reminder, if you have a story you want to share, just send a note to

In This Chat
Tara Bahrampour
Esraa Bani
Esraa Bani Esraa was born in Sudan, raised in Saudi Arabia and immigrated to the United States in 1998 where she and her family found a home in Northern Virginia for the past 12 years. Esraa went on to pursue the American dream, she earned her MPH from the University of Virgina with a concentration in Epidemiology and Research. Her interests lie in gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa. Esraa currently serves as DAWN's Strategic Planning Officer.
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