Here at The Kurdish Project, we have had the distinct privilege of connecting with Dilman Yasin, Director of Community Outreach at The Kurdish Professionals. Dilman contributes to the organization’s mission of creating a global network of Kurdish professionals to support one another in education and career aspects.
The Kurdish Project: What has your experience been like, as a Kurd in the U.S.?
Dilman Yasin: My experience in the U.S. started out like many Kurds. We came here after living in refugee camps in Turkey and landed in Boise, ID. My entire extended family was fortunate enough to come together where we all learned English and took on a new life that has shaped us into who we currently are. We moved to Nashville later on and have called it home since! As a first generation immigrant and the oldest child, it was often difficult to navigate between the American culture and my own Kurdish roots. I grew up with many responsibilities that my American friends never had to deal with and had to be a good role model for my siblings and cousins. Having to overcome some of those obstacles has made me much more resilient and empathetic towards others. It has also taught me to always appreciate my parents and the sacrifices they have encountered along the way. I have been fortunate enough to come from a family who encourages and promotes education. I received my Bachelors in Dental Hygiene and then went on to complete my Masters of Science in Healthcare Informatics a few years later. Being a diaspora Kurd has allowed me to absorb the American freedoms that many are not granted while still connecting me to my Kurdish roots through my family and culture.
TKP: We’ve heard that Nashville is deemed “Little Kurdistan”. Can you tell us about your experience living in a Kurdish community, within the U.S.?
DY: Living in a Kurdish community as large as Nashville AKA Little Kurdistan has given me so many opportunities to stay connected to my culture. We are 15,000 strong and the sense of ‘home” is everywhere! No matter what grocery store or hospital or park you go to, there is always a sign that Kurds are not too far. This has allowed so many opportunities for us to work together and really let our non- Kurdish neighbors know who we are and more importantly talk to them about Kurdistan and the issues faced there. We are our best diplomats and our Nashville community embraces us. Whether there is a funeral, wedding or picnic celebration, Kurds are able to really connect and be there for one another in times of sadness and joy. We are so privileged to have a mosque that caters to the Kurdish community along with so many markets and other businesses.
TKP: What made you want to create The Kurdish Professionals?
DY: The Kurdish Professionals started out by the youth for the youth. Although I cannot take credit for starting the organization, I have played a role in making sure it is projected in a way that is accessible to all. We want to shift the dynamics of our youth and fill the gaps that we saw in our communities. Many first generation college students had very little mentorship or guidance when starting college and beyond and we wanted to fulfill that need. Our vision is to empower the youth, encourage academic achievements and advance careers among our youth. Instilling confidence in our youth by bringing them to the table and having meaningful conversations centered around these subjects will allow them to pursue their goals. We use our social media to highlight Kurds from all over the world and help connect them to fields that they may have not known before. When you see people who look like you doing something you want to do, you get inspired. This helps accurately tell the stories of our communities.
TKP: What is one of your greatest success stories with The Kurdish Professionals?
DY: My greatest success story with the Kurdish Professionals come from continuous social media feedback. I constantly get messages about how inspiring it is to see Kurds from all over the world making strides in medicine, law, entrepreneurship, and so on. Our communities can get divided on politics, religion and culture but one thing we all have in common is the push for education and empowerment among our youth. So to see people put aside their differences and share their support for our youth gives me hope that we are not as divided as we think we are.