The Seattle Public Library

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February 19, 2018

listen to spl voices

SPL Voices celebrates the history, meaning and impact of The Seattle Public Library in Seattle’s past and future. We partnered with StoryCorps to begin collecting personal stories and conversations from a variety of perspectives.

Assaye Abunie & Valerie Wonder

Valerie Wonder, Outreach Services Manager with The Seattle Public Library, talks with Assaye Abunie, who immigrated to Seattle from Ethiopia in 1984. Assaye talks about the importance of the library to the sizable Ethiopian community in Seattle, including bringing Ethiopian-American writer, Dinaw Mengestu, to the Central Library.


Assaye Abunie & Valerie Wonder


Valerie Wonder: [00:00] Dinaw was our Seattle Reads author in, oh, I think 2008. What was your experience having him here?

Assaye Abunie: Really, that was the area where you try to you know, we bring community leaders, professionals, and, you know, scholars to come to our community and do a speech or interact and do a workshop. And when the library brought, you know, Dinaw, which is a big thing for us because, as an immigrant he accomplished so many things with young age, so bringing him was a great, you know, experience for us. And the kids were very happy; about seven of them make a line to interview him, different questions. So that’s kind of people really motivate our young people to show our community, our young people to give us an option so he can be a scholar, he can be a person who can change who they are. Really I appreciate and that’s something that I am proud of.

VW: And we needed you for that because you had seven students interview him, but you and your team brought 150 students to come hear from him. And without working with you, I don’t know that I would have been able to make that happen, so, thank you.

AA:  Yeah, really, that’s what we’re trying to do you know, bringing young people, bringing the community and show them what, you know, individuals can play a role in our community. And what we like is information, what we like is really, you know, networking. As a new immigrant we have no clue. You know when we come here, we know nobody here. And we are struggling as to now because we came, you know, as an immigrant, because of political persecution, we came here with ideas but having an organization like Seattle Public Library and others give us an option to do more. It is a good library. There is a big resources, and I know the opportunity and I would like to continue this partnership.

VW:  I think there will be lots of opportunities to continue the partnership. [02:43]



Produced by The Seattle Public Library with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national non-profit whose mission is to provide American of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.