Wafaa’ Al-Natheema was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq. She came to the USA in January, 1980 to study civil engineering at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. She chose to come to the USA, not because she specifically intended to live in the USA and not because there are no civil engineering colleges in Iraq, but because of certain circumstances and of her ardent belief, since the age of twelve, in being independent and making a living on her own. She chose Northeastern University (NU) for the coop program, which requires students to alternate between study and work. Ms. Al-Natheema completed her bachelor’s degree in 1986.
Following her graduation, Wafaa’ worked at construction and design companies such as Anderson & Nichols in Newington, CT., George Hyman Construction Company, Turner Construction Co. and others in Boston. Due to her interest in being her own boss, she left her engineering work and established her own tutorial business in November 1987. The Private Tutor was the name of the business that she founded and directed all through December 1990. Starting in January 1991, she incorporated the business and diversified its programs as well as changing its name to the Boston Institute of Technology & Education (BITE) which was located in Somerville, Massachusetts. Fifteen part-time teachers and tutors worked at this company at one point or another covering a variety of subjects such as languages, sciences and computers. In 1993, the scope and name of the business was changed again and until 2001 the business operated under Cambridge Institute of Tutoring & Education (CITE) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In the Fall of 1988, Wafaa’, frustrated with the seemingly biased educational institutions and media coverage on nearly every aspect dealing with the Arab and Islamic worlds, she went back to Northeastern University (NU) to study political science. In 1990, after a year and three months, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. One of the main reasons for pursuing the study of the subject matter was her passion for teaching in general and for teaching history, politics and religions of the Arab and Islamic worlds in particular. While running her business and going to school full time, she was teaching history, politics and social issues related to these regions, as well as teaching Arabic in centers and schools such as the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (CCAE), Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE), Boston Language Institute, and local community churches. Ms. Al-Natheema started one-on-one private tutoring in Arabic in January 1986 which, in two years, evolved into The Private Tutor business.
In November 1989, Wafaa’ obtained a real estate license and in January 1990, began working part-time at Century 21. In the same month (and year), she started Wafa’s Newsletter as a free directory of events, classes and workshops on subjects related to the Middle East and the Islamic world. By its third issue, the quarterly newsletter was no longer free and evolved into news and reports on various communities in the US and other related subjects.
Since 1990, Wafaa’ has been involved in producing, co-hosting and hosting radio programs with WZBC (90.3 FM) and very active in educating listeners and speaking out about the Gulf War and the effects of the embargo on the people of Iraq. The Gulf War and politics are not the only subjects she has educated about. Among other issues of interest and concern to her are:
Arab & Eastern cultures and contributions
The 55-year old Palestinian Problem
Since 1991, Wafaa’ has been interpreting and translating from and to Arabic documents in business, law, technology, medicine, poetry and other areas. Among the list of companies and hospitals that she worked for as a translator are Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Retina Associates, the United Arab Emirates Embassy, Boston Institute of Technology & Education (BITE), Transparent Languages, Inc., Cambridge Institute of Tutoring & Education (CITE), and various law firms.
From 1992 through February 1998, Wafaa’ Al-Natheema taught English as a Second Language at World Learning, Cambridge Institute of Tutoring & Education (CITE), Lassel College and Language Consultants. She was a member of MATSOL (or Massachusetts Association of Teachers to Students of Other Languages) and of the Massachusetts Medical Interpreters Association (MMIA) between 1996 and 1999.
It was also in 1993 when Wafa’s Newsletter was renamed Al-Wafaa News and published articles on famous Arab women such as the renowned Iraqi architect Zahaa’ Hadid and Palestinian poet and anthologist, Salma Khadra Jayyusi. To learn more about Al-Wafaa News, visit its website at http://www.INEAS.org/al-wafaanews
In October 1994, which was another crucial year for Wafaa’, she founded the Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies (INEAS), an independent, non-profit organization with the mission to educate the public and inform the media on issues related to the Arab and Islamic Worlds, Africa and the non-Arab Middle Eastern communities. In the same month, she organized a poetry evening with the famous Iraqi poetess, Lamee’a Abbas Amara. The evening was very successful and included Ms. Amara’s poetry recited by her in Arabic and by Wafaa’ Al-Natheema in English. The event, which included dinner and Arabic music, was well publicized among the various communities and in the media including an article about Ms. Amara in the Patriot Ledger. A month after the poetry evening, Wafaa’ traveled to Paris and London to interview Iraqi composer Naseer Shemma, renowned artist, Hasan Masoudy and Iraqi (woman) architect Jala Makhzoomy.
In 1995, INEAS sponsored the renowned Iraqi composer and oud player, Naseer Shemma all the way from Tunisia. Much publicity preceded his concert in October. His music was played on WGBH (Public Radio), WZBC and community television. Announcement of both Shemma’s lecture and concert appeared in the Boston Globe and were sent by mail as well as worldwide by e-mail. Following the Concert, the Boston Globe published an outstanding review of Naseer Shemma’s performance. A professional videotape of the concert is available for $25 (incl. S/H in the US & Canada).
In 1996, an artistic project, Zannobiya Productions, was created by Wafaa’ through INEAS for the purpose of educating teachers, parents and students in grades 5-12 about Arab and Middle Eastern cultures. Three programs were designed to elucidate certain aspects of the culture: Arabian Stallions, Baghdad Cafe and Thousand & One Nights. Being tired of politics and highly interested in the arts, she created these 45-minute performances to educate and entertain these specific audiences with music, songs, acting and storytelling. Ms. Al-Natheema’s role was to write the script for these performances after thorough research, promote and publicize the programs, and act and perform songs. A video was produced for the Arabian Stallions performance that premiered at First Night’s New Year’s celebration in December 1996. It can be obtained from INEAS and costs $15 (incl. S/H in the USA).
Al-Natheema’s consistent work to combat stereotyping and to educate about the forgotten world, the unknown (hard working and talented) soldiers was continuous. Her passion for the arts, poets, writers and musicians has been a serious concern, responsibility and interest since childhood. The fact that she loves singing, dancing, writing poetry and prose, teaching and lecturing, made her appreciate the arts, provided her with strong oral and verbal communication skills, and enabled her to organize and accomplish persistently successful events and lectures including Naseer Shemma’s concert in April, 1998. His two lectures in Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as his concert at the Blackman Auditorium of Northeastern University in Boston, were the discussion of people worldwide. This time, the publicity for the concert was superb. Thanks to the Internet technology, Naseer Shemma’s music and concert became global. Also an article with an announcement on Shemma’s concert and lecture schedule appeared in the Boston Globe.
In 1997, Wafaa’ organized a lecture series through INEAS at the Boston Public Library and co-sponsored another lecture series with the International Institute of Boston. Then in 1998, organized and sponsored “Cultural Episodes on the East and Africa,” which was a lecture series held at Northeastern University.
From 1996 to 1997, Wafaa’ hosted a radio program she called Arabian Stallions on WMBR (88.1 FM). On December 21, 1997, she began broadcasting live her own radio program, Baghdad Cafe, on WZBC (90.3 FM). The program, which featured World Music/Issues from around Asia, Africa and Europe, aired its last episode in February 2000.
1998 marks a great publicity for Wafaa’ Al-Natheema’s accomplishments and/or events sponsored by INEAS. Articles appeared in:
The Boston Globe on February 1st.
The Washington Report on the Middle East in April & May (two articles)
The Monadnock Ledger (in NH) on July 30th.
Visit INEAS’s website and read the above articles under ‘INEAS in The Media’ http://www.INEAS.org
For ten years, Ms. Al-Natheema edited Al-Wafaa News, an independent quarterly newsletter since 1990 focusing on art, music, poetry, humor and social issues. Between 1997 and 2000, she edited INEAS News, the quarterly newsletter of the Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies (INEAS).
Between February and November, 1998 she worked as a construction administrator and a field engineer at the Central Artery/Tunnel Project in Boston.
After she stopped medical interpreting at the Children’s Hospital in October, 1999, she continued free-lance interpreting at Inlingua, Inc., Benoit Associates, Cambridge Hospital, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Cross Cultural Communications, Lahey Clinic, Franciscan Children’s Hospital and others.
In October 1998, Wafaa’ traveled to Tunisia and brought back a thorough report about Tunisia and the Qartaj Film Festival. Her trips to Iraq and England in 1999 gave birth to two of her best ever written reports about Iraqis’ daily lives during the embargo and on Arab Excellence. These two reports are available on INEAS website by clicking on ‘Special Reports’
In July 2000, Ms. Al-Natheema joined the DeWolfe real estate office in Needham, Mass. Her last day at DeWolfe was on Friday December 21, 2001. In December 2000, she became a member of the National Writers Union (NWU).
Wafaa’ organized (through INEAS) the tour of Hussein Al-Athamy and The Tchalghi Baghdadi (HATB) which took place in Cambridge, MA. and Washington, DC in October/November 2000. The ensemble, which arrived from IRAQ, included the renowned Maqaam singer, Hussein Al-Athamy, famous oud player, Ali Al-Imam and Jawza player, Dalia Yaqoob.
Simultaneously, she began working on the tour of Farida and the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble (FIME) and was able to solicit interested co-sponsors such as World Music Institute (in New York), the Smithsonian (in DC) and Department of Cultural Affairs (in IL). The greatly successful tour in four States (including Mass.) took place in May 2001 and was publicized in the New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and other publications.
In 2004, Wafaa’ published her first poetry book, “Untamed Nostalgia—Wild Poems”. More information about the book including how to order it can be found by visiting http://www.INEAS.org/products.htm or by accessing http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=21330
Al-Natheema started her blog in April 2005 as an outlet for her reports and commentary on a variety of subjects; politics, health, the arts, poetry and history. The blog can be accessed at http://zennobia.blogspot.com
In August 2005, Wafaa’ produced her first CD of poetry and songs entitled, “Halamanteeshi” which featured her songs at age four collaged with her singing now. She also mixed the beautiful voice of her deceased uncle (who passed away in 1965) with her own singing. The CD features Iraqi children songs, lullabies and folkloric songs. Nine of the 12 songs have been composed and vocally interpreted by Wafaa’. About the story of Halamanteeshi as well as information regarding the CD and how to order it, click on http://www.INEAS.org/products.htm
Ms. Al-Natheema has participated in the PEACE Festival beyond the DMZ 2005 in South Korea. She negotiated a contract with the Korean organization to promote two Iraqi musicians (living in Jordan) to perform at the Festival. She also gave a performance of poetry and songs on August 26, 2005. A detailed report about the Peace Festival and her visit to S. Korea can be accessed at http://www.INEAS.org/specialreports.htm#Korea
She can be reached at:
P.O. Box 425125
Cambridge, MA 02142 USA
Tel (617) 86-INEAS (864-6327) Ext. 3
Fax (617) 864-6328