New memoir challenges perceptions of what it means to grow up in the Middle East
Anan Ameri has made her mark here in Michigan. She is the founder of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, an inductee into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, and she is the founder of the Palestine Aid Society of America.
Now, Ameri is making a new mark as an author. Her new memoir is titled, The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus and she joined Stateside to talk about her upbringing.
Ameri was born in Damascus in 1944 to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father. She came to the United States in 1974, when she was 30 years old. Before coming to the U.S., she grew up in an extremely diverse neighborhood in Syria with neighbors from all different countries and religions. According to Ameri, as a child, she rarely noticed the differences.
"We all lived in the same neighborhood, we went to the same schools, we played together in the streets and I never thought of 'them versus us'," Ameri said. "We knew their holidays [are] different, but that's about it."
Listen to the full interview to hear more about her upbringing with liberal parents in Syria, and later when they fled to Jordan, how storytelling was a major part of her life, and the significance of her father's name that was a rare honor for a daughter.