In this timely event, we pull back the curtain on the experiences of immigrants in the West, examine Western expectations of gratitude, and explore the interplay between ideas of assimilation, integration, and ‘worthiness’.

Reflecting on her personal experience of being a refugee in America and England, novelist Dina Nayeri writes: “We sensed the on-going expectation that we would shed our old skin, give up our former identities…and that we would imply at every opportunity that America was better, that we were so lucky, so humbled to be here.”

Join Nayeri, 21st US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, author Ayisha Malik, and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown as they discuss the wide spectrum of the refugee and immigrant experience, offering nuanced, complicated perspectives on the notion of “good” immigrants.

About The Host

Saeed Khan

Saeed Khan is Senior Lecturer in Near East & Asian Studies and Global Studies at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. He is also the co-founder of the Institute for Social Policy & Understanding, and a panelist on Turning Point for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

About The Speakers

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a journalist, broadcaster and author. This year she was named columnist of the year at the National Press Awards. She has written over a dozen books, including The Settler’s Cookbook and Exotic England. She is Professor of Journalism at Middlesex University.

Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States (2015 – 2016) and is the first Latino to hold the position. Herrera’s many collections of poetry include Notes on the Assemblage, Senegal Taxi, Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems. He was a recipient of the PEN, Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Dina Nayeri

Dina Nayeri was born in Iran and arrived in America aged 10 as a refugee. She is the author The Ungrateful Refugee (Canongate, 2019) and two other novels. She is the winner of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, an O. Henry Award and the UNESCO City of Literature Paul Engle Prize.

Ayisha Malik

Ayisha Malik’s, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick. Ayisha was shortlisted for The Asian Women of Achievement Award and Marie Claire’s Future Shapers’ Award. She is also the writer behind Nadiya Hussain’s novels. Her third novel, This Green and Pleasant Land, is a dramedy about a Muslim family building a mosque in an English village.