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Local Kurdish leader pens memoir: 'My Journey to America'

Newzad Brifki, director of the Kurdish Community of America in Moorhead, has released a book about his journey from Kurdistan to a refugee camp in Turkey, and ultimately to America. Dave Wallis / The Forum

MOORHEAD — When Newzad Brifki was 4 years old, he and his family were forced to flee Iraqi Kurdistan after it was attacked with chemical weapons while under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Brifki spent the next four years of his life in a refugee camp in Turkey, before coming to the U.S. in 1992.

Brifki, now a Moorhead father and husband, has released a memoir about his struggles and triumphs, titled "My Journey to America: A Kurdish-American Story."

"My book covers how I left Kurdistan and why I left, and being in a refugee camp for four years as a child, growing up in the United States, and my gratitude for the country," he said.

Brifki graduated from Moorhead High School in 2003 and went on to earn a degree in business administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2008. A year later, he founded the Kurdish Community of America, a resource center in Moorhead that serves the area's Kurdish population. In 2014, he completed a master's degree in business administration at the University of Mary.

"I took advantage of the good things, and I got everthing I ever wanted," he said.

Brifki lives in Moorhead with his wife, two daughters and son, and serves as a part-time substitute teacher for Moorhead schools, while working as director for the Kurdish Community of America.

Although Brifki's book is based on his personal story, he says it has a larger overall goal.

"I want those who are not informed about different cultures to recognize and realize that there are good people here," Brifki said. "Our country was started based on immigration .... We are a nation of many nations."

Brifki hopes the book will serve as educational material for those who want to learn more about the procedure of coming to the U.S. as a refugee.

"There is a legal process, a vetting process," Brifki said. "These are the good guys who deserve a new beginning."

Over 200 copies of the book have been sold since it was released March 14, Brifki said. The book is available through Amazon and Next Century Publishing, as well as at Barnes and Noble and the Kurdish Community of America.

Brifki has participated in several talks about his book. The next one in the area is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, July 17, at the Kiwanis Club of Fargo. It's open to the public.