Kingdom County Productions, Catamount Arts and The Telling Project will tour the new production, THE SAME MOON, for three northern Vermont performances next week. The show highlights the stories of migration and re-settlement by New Vermonters, three of them residents of the Northeast Kingdom.
* 7pm, Friday, January 17th at the Stetson Studio One at VPR - Colchester;
* 7pm, Saturday, January 18th at Twilight Theater, Northern Vermont University - Lyndon;
* 3pm, Sunday, January 19th at Highland Center for the Arts, Greensboro. Tickets are available at www.kcppresents.org
THE SAME MOON is directed by Ariel Zevon and Sahra Ali and it will feature the stories of eight New Vermonters who have migrated to St. Johnsbury, Montpelier and Burlington - from Nepal, Sudan, Madagascar, Jamaica, Congo, Somalia, Ghana and Mexico.
Here are quick sketches of the Vermonters who will tell their stories:
Derek is a Northeast Kingdom fixture, navigating farmers markets and special events where his pop-up Jamaican food concession attracts thousands of fans. Derek was born in the Jamaican countryside. While a teenager, he got a job at a Holiday Inn in Montego Bay - and later landed a cruise ship position where he worked for several years. It was on the ship that he met and found romance with Shellie, a Wells River gal who was on leave from her Army post in Panama. Derek moved to Vermont and worked in Shellie’s family restaurant before setting out on his own. He and Shellie built a home in Barnet where they raised their kids and started their business, Limbo Spices.
Derek remembers the kindness of Jamaican mother. One day, he ruined his shoes while racing on his bike but wanted to go to a dance that night. He wore his mother’s sneakers.
Amal and her family came to the U.S. as refugees from political violence in Sudan. Her family believed in education and put Amal through college. Amal worked in Sudan as a bank manager. Her husband, Amir, drove a taxi but failed to come home one day from work. Amal heard nothing for a month. Amir’s taxi had been hijacked by anti-government rebels – and he was then accused of being in cahoots with them. He was shot, imprisoned, tortured and interrogated. He was then left at the hospital – injured and traumatized.
Amal and her family sold all they had, in order to escape, first to Egypt. They came to the U.S. as refugees – and they eventually landed in St. Johnsbury, on the advice of former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, who met them in New Haven, Connecticut, one of the places Amal and her family lived after arriving in the U.S.
Amal’s son attends St. Johnsbury Academy. She works in the food service at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.
Sahra also lives in St. Johnsbury. She came to the U.S. from her family home in Somalia, when she was nine years old. It was only then that she met her father who had gone to New York to work as a janitor at Penn Station – to earn enough money to bring his wife and children here. Sahra’s family settled in Jersey City, just across the river from New York City. After 9/11, feeling new pressures, they moved to Ohio where Sahra showed a love of learning and eventually attended Ohio State University, studying political science.
In Vermont, Sahra has written for The North Star Monthly and Hardwick Gazette, waitressed at The Rabbit Hill Inn and worked the cash register at Willey’s Store in Greensboro. She currently works at St. Johnsbury’s Moose River Lake and Lodge – and she’s co-directing, The Same Moon, along with Ariel Zevon.
Rabin also came to the U.S. as a refugee. He is Nepali – but was born in a refugee camp where his family and other Nepalese had to live because they were barred from returning to their homeland after having spent time farming in neighboring Bhutan. Rabin lived in the camp for the first nine years of his life – among more than 100,000 other displaced people. Their simple small handmade shack was built just 18 inches from their neighbors on either side - and there were just ten water spigots for the entire camp. The UN helped his family find re-settlement, first in Rochester, NY. They finally landed (happily) in Vermont.
Rabin works at Spectrum Youth Services in Burlington – and he attends the University of Vermont where he’s studying psychology.
Mika was one of Madagascar’s leading musicians before falling in love with Maia, a Maine farm gal who was in his country studying and working in international development. Maia is currently working toward her PhD at UVM.
Mika works in Burlington as a school crossing guard – and for the public works department, painting lines on roads. “It’s dangerous work,” he says. “Cars go fast. We work early in the morning before the business begins. It is dark.”
“But I love it. All the roads are beautiful now. And it’s important. It’s for the safety of the people. “
Mika plays an increasing number of concerts in Vermont – and he spent October in Paris, where he recorded a new album. He will play some of his music during our show.
Emmanuel came to Montpelier from Ghana. The terrain where he grew up in Ghana was flat – so Vermont’s mountains startled him. Emmanuel is athletic – an accomplished soccer play who now leads the phys ed program at Montpelier’s Union Elementary School.
“I wanted to be a professional soccer player or I wanted to join the military,” he says. “My mother discouraged me from joining the military. My uncle discouraged me from playing soccer. I listened to both of them. “
In Ghana, while in elementary school, he worked to pay for his schooling. He also worked his way through college before getting a job teaching. “It’s hard to say that Ghana still feels like home to me,” he said, “especially as I raised all three my children here. So, I think Vermont is home to me now.“
Tsimba is also a refugee - from the Democratic Republic of Congo where political violence has disrupted many lives. He doesn’t want to talk about his refugee experience. “It makes me too sad,” he says.
But Tsimba will talk about his career as a competitive boxer in Congo – starting when he was young. “I was 5. The boy I was fighting was 7 years old. He was taller, heavier, bigger. We were in the ring. He came towards me. I was standing up. One, two, three. I was lying down.”
Tsimba works as a dishwasher at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill in Burlington. He’s 20 – enrolled in Winooski High School where he is learning English. He speaks several other languages quite fluently. English is still new to him.
Sponsors for “The Same Moon” include Stephen Isham, Ron Miller and Jacqueline Fischer, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford and Alison Barkley and Vermont Public Radio. People wishing more information or tickets can go to kcppresents.org or contact Jay Craven at firstname.lastname@example.org.