My KDL Story: Muradija Alibasic
"We've always been aware that we have a lot of immigrant families, and we're always looking for ways to help them use the library..."
For Muradija Alibasic, the library is not only a place to check out books and other materials; it's where she goes to connect with her homeland.
Muradija is a native of Pazar, Sandžak, a region of Serbia with a large ethnic Bosniak population. (Bosniaks are natives of Serbia whose ethnicity is Bosnian.) She immigrated to West Michigan in 2001 with her parents, four sisters and brother and their families, and it was here that she met her husband, Emir, and started a family of her own. Muradija and her family now live in Kentwood, which is said to have one of the three largest concentrations of Bosnian immigrants in the country.
"Because it's such a (relatively) small community, a lot of people know one another," she said. "But some people don't have any relatives here."
Muradija was visiting the Kentwood branch for Storytime with her infant son, Nur, when she noticed the program also was offered in Spanish. Because she and a group of other Bosnian parents had been bringing their children to the English-language Storytime, she offered to lead one in Bosnian.
The group typically includes from 20 to 40 parents and their children, who read, play games and sing Bosnian songs. Grandparents also are welcome, as are non-Bosnian families. The group meets Saturday mornings during summer and on Sunday afternoons from Labor Day to Memorial Day.
Sara D'Archangel, Kentwood branch youth specialist, said she jumped at the chance to offer Storytime in Bosnian.
"We've always been aware that we have a lot of immigrant families, and we're always looking for ways to help them use the library," D'Archangel said. "Plus, with our early learning initiatives the Storytime just seemed like a natural fit."
The Kentwood branch also offers a Vietnamese Storytime, and hopes to add Storytimes in Mandarin Chinese in the fall. Books and other materials for loan in languages other than English also are available at the Kentwood branch.
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