Immigrants, Refugees Celebrate Thanksgiving Thursday marked the first Thanksgiving for many newly arrived immigrants and refugees in the United States. Iraqi refugee Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi talks about how he spent the day after arriving in Detroit last week.
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Immigrants, Refugees Celebrate Thanksgiving

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Immigrants, Refugees Celebrate Thanksgiving

Immigrants, Refugees Celebrate Thanksgiving

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On this day after Thanksgiving, we wanted to check in with someone we met last month on DAY TO DAY. Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi was an ophthalmologist in Iraq before the war. He is now an Iraqi refugee in this country. Dr. Hanoudi arrived in the Detroit area just last week. He'd spent several months applying for refugee status after fleeing to Jordan. Najeeb Hanoudi's son was accidentally shot and seriously injured by an American soldier more than three years ago and the family has moved here seeking medical care. This was their first Thanksgiving in their new country.

Dr. NAJEEB HANOUDI (Iraqi Refugee): We were joined by two of my nephews with their families. There was also at the gathering the father-in-law of my - one of my nephews, and there were few other people; you see relatives I have never met. In fact, I have never seen my own nephews for almost 15, 17 years - and they are absolutely fascinating (unintelligible) and yesterday was a most beautiful, you know, day to spend, you see, to, you know, celebrate this absolutely fascinating feast.

I mean Thanksgiving is a very sacred day and I know how much it means to the American people. And I am an old fellow, but I have known the United States from the distance for so many years. I like the place. I very much like the people. I've had absolutely fascinating encounters and friendships.

BRAND: Now, this is the most American of holidays, one could argue, and you know, you've been here for just about a week.

Dr. HANOUDI: Uh-huh.

BRAND: How did you find it?

Dr. HANOUDI: I think it's absolutely fascinating. I mean, the - you know, you can feel the mood of jubilation and love and attachment to the occasion. I mean, I myself, in spite of the fact that I have only been in a Thanksgiving Day in America, I was absolutely touched and I behave very much like, you know, like everybody else. It was absolutely incredible. It's very hard to describe, you know? I don't I could describe it now.

BRAND: What did you have to eat? I'm just curious.

Dr. HANOUDI: Turkey.

BRAND: Turkey. You had turkey.

Dr. HANOUDI: Yeah.

BRAND: What did you think of it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: You like it?

Dr. HANOUDI: In fact, I ate turkey twice yesterday, you see?

BRAND: Twice?

Dr. HANOUDI: Yes, twice. But at the house, there were other things - Iraqi things and Oriental things in addition to the turkey. But I ate turkey. I mean, I love turkey. Turkey - not our old neighbor. Turkey - the eatable.

BRAND: Right. Yes. We won't talk about that other turkey right now.

Dr. HANOUDI: Uh-huh.

BRAND: So you are settled now in the Detroit area and you will stay there for a long time. You don't expect to go back to Iraq?

Dr. HANOUDI: That is a very difficult question, Madeleine. I mean, I was born in Iraq and I lived there 70 years and I was, you know, at one time very, very happy there. And I had my ups and downs in Iraq. But the last few years, we have a nightmare. In my current mood, I wouldn't go back to Iraq. But if things get better and, you know, you - people start to go back, our fellows, the Christians go back, the plight, their plight would improve a little bit, I'd certainly - I don't think (unintelligible). I might go back. But now, as far as things are concerned now, as far as things are going well now, I wouldn't go. Certainly, no.

BRAND: Well, Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi, thank you very much for speaking with me again.

Dr. HANOUDI: Thank you. It's been a great pleasure.

BRAND: That's Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi. He and his family are Iraqi refugees. They arrived in the United States last week.

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