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Transcript of Mary A. Yazji Albert interview in English
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Title: Transcript of Mary A. Yazji Albert interview in English
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Language: English
Creator: Al-Hadi, Esam ( Translator )
Jardee, Barbara ( Transcriptionist )
Publisher: Jardee Transcription
Place of Publication: Tuscon, AZ
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Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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System ID: AA00008575:00004

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Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 1 Mary Yazji Albert December 3, 2011 Jacksonville, Florida Esam Alhadi, Interviewer and Translator for University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries Edited by Jardee Transcription Alhadi: Thank you Mrs. Mary Yazji Albert. We are very happy to be with you. Albert: I am happy, too, to be with you. Alhadi: We are here for this interview. It is now 4:00 PM and today is Saturday, the third day of great to have you. I wou ld like to start by asking you to tell us about your early life, where were you born and where were you raised? Also tell us about your early stages of education before coming to America. Albert: I was born in Alnabk in Syria. I came here in 1965. I wa s a twenty year old newlywed. I came and lived here. I have four children. My husband was a businessman. When the oldest one of my children joined the university, I went back, finished my high school education and obtained my GED certificate. I then jo ined Johns College and obtained a degree in management and marketing. I felt very happy to have an education opportunity here in the USA after having my early education in Syria. All my children are now married. My eldest son has two degrees in finance and economy. The one in the middle has a degree in management and the third one is a chiropractic doctor. My daughter lives in Oklahoma City. She is married to Dr. Adonis Al Butrus who is a psychiatrist. Thanks be to God, I am very happy with my life h ere in the USA.

PAGE 2

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 2 Alhadi: Before we go into more details with your life here in the USA, I want you to take us back to your early life in Syria. Tell us more about your childhood friends, schools, and anything else you wish to share with us. Albert: I h Danish School in Alnabk and then moved to Deir Mar Musa School in Alnabk and spent four years there and then got married. Alhadi: I think you mentioned that you came her e in 1965. Albert: True. Alhadi: And also that you are the first one among your siblings to come here. Albert: Yes. I was a twenty year old newlywed. Alhadi: And that means all your children were born here in America. Albert: Yes. All my children were born here. My husband was here in the States. He came to this country when he was thirteen years old. His name in Syria was Elyas Yazji, and he changed it to Louis Albert after he got settled here. He joined the U.S. Army and worked in Germany. A lhadi: By the way, my colleague Richard was in Germany with his father when his father was working for the U.S. Army too. Saltzburg: Yes. I lived in the city of Berlin and Stuttgart. Alhadi: What year? Saltzburg: We were there first between 1959 and 1 967 and again in the 1970s. Albert: My husband was in Germany in 1956. Alhadi: Did you come directly to Florida when you came to America? Albert: I came directly to Jacksonville, Florida. It was a small city at that time.

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Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 3 Alhadi: And you remained in J acksonville ever since. Albert: True. Alhadi: You never moved to any other town for living or working or anything else? Albert: We just had a vacation in Los Angeles. Alhadi: That means Jacksonville remained your main home city all the time. Albert: That has been the case since 1965 up to this day. Alhadi: It rarely happens here in the States to find a person living in one city for a period that is as long as close to fifty years like your case. Such a case is very hard to find in the States. Why did you decide to live here your entire life? Albert: I have been living here for forty six years because my husband was a successful businessman. He was doing very well with his business here in Jacksonville. He died on November 30, 1995. My children and I took over his business and, thanks are to God, we are doing very well. During this period, we used to meet regularly in the Salam Club. This is an Arab social club. My son George is currently the president of this club here in Jacksonville, Flori da. Alhadi: I am interested to know more about this club. When was it established and what was the purpose behind establishing it and what does it do now? Albert: This club is 100 years old now. As a matter of fact, this coming May fifth will mark its one hundredth anniversary. They are planning a jubilee celebration. It is a social club with aims to give Arab people and families a space to meet, socialize, and to get to know each other. It also undertakes some activities that aim to give the young m en and women a platform to work together on and to get to know each other and create constructive social relations between them.

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Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 4 Alhadi: And it is one hundred years old now. Albert: True. Alhadi: Did it have the name of Salam Club from the very beginnin g? American. It too had that name from the very beginning and continued up to the present. My son, Dr. George Albert, is the current president, as I mentioned e arlier. If I can get your number, I will give it to them in case they want to invite you for the Diamond Jubilee. Alhadi: It is very important for us to know about this and I would love to be there. I will give you my e mail address later. I am going to follow many examples similar to this one among other Arab communities. I would like you to tell us more about the activities this club undertakes in Jacksonville and also I want to know if these activities are restri cted to Arab people or open to the American community? Albert: It began as a society for the Arab families and one of their activities is an annual convention called the SLAC Convention. Alhadi: What is this convention for? Albert: They give talks, or ganize sessions to get to know each other because SLAC is a gathering for all Arab clubs in America. It is a good opportunity for the all the members to socialize together and have fun. Many of the young men and women get to know each other through these activities and many of them end up married after getting to know each other through the club activities. Families encourage this and they want to see those young men and women close to each other.

PAGE 5

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 5 Alhadi: This is very good. I still need to know if the club is open to the American society and if you invite Americans to attend your activities and to show them an image of Arabic culture. Albert: The club activities are now on the web. We are now considering the idea of a museum to commemorate the accomp lishments of the outstanding Arab individuals from earlier times onward. contributions to the wider American society? Albert: Yes. It will be here in Jacksonville. Alhadi: I hope we get to know about it when it comes into reality. Albert: Sure. If you give me your number, I will give it to my son and will make sure he informs you when this museum will happen. Alhadi: This is very important. Albert: Yes. And this museum is going to cover the Arab communities all over America. Alhadi: By the way, I am also a museum professional. This is my field. Albert: Good. A lady with the name of Helen I forgot her last name was helping us with the planning. We met her in one of the Salam Club meetings. Alhadi: I hope we talk later about it. I will give you my number to give it to your son so we can stay in touch. Albert: Sure. Alhadi: Let us now move on to something else. You are a businesswoman and you are managing your fam business women. Would you please tell us a bit about your business? What kind of

PAGE 6

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 6 business is it, and how is it for you as an Arab lady to deal with business? Did you encounter any problem ? Albert: My husband started this business and then my sons and I continued managing it after he died. He was truly successful in his business. The business was composed of twelve convenience stores with gas stations. After my sons started going to sch ool, we decided to sell some part of the business, but we kept the buildings. After every one of my children joined a university, I continued to keep up with the business. Thanks are to God, we are doing fine and the business is still successful. Alhadi: How many stores do you still have? Albert: We are now renting five of them and sold the rest. Albert: Not at all. My study of management and marketing here helped me a lot to keep up with my business. Alhadi: Do you mind telling us a little bit more about your sons and daughter? You mentioned that they are born and had their education here in America. A lbert: My older son, Elian Albert, finished Bishop Kenny High School and then joined St. Joseph University in Indiana. He graduated with two separate degrees. One of them was in business with a minor in finance, and the other one was in economics. My s econd son is Jack Albert and was helping with the management of the stores with his dad. The third one is a chiropractor. He graduated from Life University in Atlanta, Georgia. My daughter graduated in Orlando. She has a psychiatrist degree. She got m arried to Adonis Al Butrus who is also a psychiatrist.

PAGE 7

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 7 Alhadi: Are all your sons living here in Jacksonville? Albert: The boys live here but my daughter is in Oklahoma City. Her husband works there. He got his M.D. certificate from the University of Da mascus. He came here to specialize in psychiatry and started practicing psychiatric medicine in Oklahoma. Alhadi: Your sons were all born and educated here. You also spent most of your life here. I want to know about your connections with Syria and if you are still maintaining some connections with the people there. Albert: I love Syria. Although I lived in the country for forty six years and only my first twenty years were in Syria, but I still love it. k to Syria? Albert: I went there whenever one of my brothers got married. I went to attend their wedding ceremonies. I still love it and I still miss it. Alhadi: When did you go there last time? Albert: I was there two years ago. Whenever I go back to Alnabk my tears come down. That is where I was born and raised. I dearly miss it. All my sons got married from Syria although they were all born and raised here. My thirty four years old son went to Syria and got married there. His wife is an engi neer and he got to know her when she came to got married. My third son got married to a Mexican girl with Syrian roots. Although we all love Syria, we are here living within the American society which we love and are proud of.

PAGE 8

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 8 community? Is there a strong connection, integration, and communication between them? Albert: Yes, there is a connection through the club. We also used to have another association called Mar Ephraim Association that had a number of social and cultural gatherings and meetings. In many cases, we invited doctors to tell us about medicines and vitamins and other sub jects. One time Jihan Al Sadat and her husband came to Jacksonville, Florida. I and another six ladies went to visit her for one hour. Alhadi: When was this? Albert: It has been a while. Her husband was still a president. Alhadi: This means it was be fore 1981, the year when Sadat was killed. Albert: True. It was before that. She came here and we went to meet her. Syrian and Lebanese ladies? Albert: You can say that it has a range of nationalities. We have Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Lebanese women. We are all friends and we love each other. Alhadi: Let me ask you Mrs. Albert, you came here as an immigrant Arab woman. What do you feel America has give n you? Albert: I came here while I was still young. I consider myself to have been raised in this country. It gave me a chance to culture myself through university education here. I also learned many good things and customs. I have no doubt that I ben efited a lot for my cultural and social life, and more importantly, financially, that helped me to make a good living.

PAGE 9

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 9 Alhadi: This is a hypothetical question. Do you think you could have achieved what you have achieved if you had remained in Syria? Do you think your life would have had been the same if you remained there? Albert: I think I would have been happy in Syria too. I could have finished my education there. I could have built a good social status too. This is because I love social life and s ocial gatherings. I also love to integrate with others. Alhadi: You came here while you were still a young woman. Is there anything you feel that you miss in Syria? Albert: I feel that I miss my colleagues and the country as a whole. Alhadi: It is no doubt that life here and there are quite different. Albert: Very different. I was able to adapt to life here. In spite of that, I still love living in Syria. I went there ten years ago, after being away for eleven years. I took my older son who was th en thirty four years old with me. My plan was to stay for only one month. While I was there, everybody in my family back here kept calling me and asking why I was late. I told them I extended my period of stay in Syria. In fact, I remained there for fo ur months. I was very happy and had no problem adapting to life there. If you have the money, then there will be no problem to have a good life there or anywhere. Alhadi: We are very happy to have you today. We became aware of your personality and hist ory through the information you provided us. It was great meeting you. Albert: I am happy too to be with you and to get to know you and to talk to you about my life in Syria and here. Alhadi: Thank you. As I told you earlier, I will remain in touch to know more the club and its activities.

PAGE 10

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 10 Albert: I just want to mention that [I] was the head of the Mar Ephram association for ten years. Alhadi: That is good. Thank you one more time. I hope we get another chance to meet again and talk. Albert: God w illing. [END OF INTERVIEW]



PAGE 1

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 1 Mary Yazji Albert December 3, 2011 Jacksonville, Florida Esam Alhadi, Interviewer and Translator for University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries Edited by Jardee Transcription Alhadi: Thank you Mrs. Mary Yazji Albert. We are very happy to be with you. Albert: I am happy, too, to be with you. Alhadi: We are here for this interview. It is now 4:00 PM and today is Saturday, the third day of great to have you. I wou ld like to start by asking you to tell us about your early life, where were you born and where were you raised? Also tell us about your early stages of education before coming to America. Albert: I was born in Alnabk in Syria. I came here in 1965. I wa s a twenty year old newlywed. I came and lived here. I have four children. My husband was a businessman. When the oldest one of my children joined the university, I went back, finished my high school education and obtained my GED certificate. I then jo ined Johns College and obtained a degree in management and marketing. I felt very happy to have an education opportunity here in the USA after having my early education in Syria. All my children are now married. My eldest son has two degrees in finance and economy. The one in the middle has a degree in management and the third one is a chiropractic doctor. My daughter lives in Oklahoma City. She is married to Dr. Adonis Al Butrus who is a psychiatrist. Thanks be to God, I am very happy with my life h ere in the USA.

PAGE 2

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 2 Alhadi: Before we go into more details with your life here in the USA, I want you to take us back to your early life in Syria. Tell us more about your childhood friends, schools, and anything else you wish to share with us. Albert: I h Danish School in Alnabk and then moved to Deir Mar Musa School in Alnabk and spent four years there and then got married. Alhadi: I think you mentioned that you came her e in 1965. Albert: True. Alhadi: And also that you are the first one among your siblings to come here. Albert: Yes. I was a twenty year old newlywed. Alhadi: And that means all your children were born here in America. Albert: Yes. All my children were born here. My husband was here in the States. He came to this country when he was thirteen years old. His name in Syria was Elyas Yazji, and he changed it to Louis Albert after he got settled here. He joined the U.S. Army and worked in Germany. A lhadi: By the way, my colleague Richard was in Germany with his father when his father was working for the U.S. Army too. Saltzburg: Yes. I lived in the city of Berlin and Stuttgart. Alhadi: What year? Saltzburg: We were there first between 1959 and 1 967 and again in the 1970s. Albert: My husband was in Germany in 1956. Alhadi: Did you come directly to Florida when you came to America? Albert: I came directly to Jacksonville, Florida. It was a small city at that time.

PAGE 3

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 3 Alhadi: And you remained in J acksonville ever since. Albert: True. Alhadi: You never moved to any other town for living or working or anything else? Albert: We just had a vacation in Los Angeles. Alhadi: That means Jacksonville remained your main home city all the time. Albert: That has been the case since 1965 up to this day. Alhadi: It rarely happens here in the States to find a person living in one city for a period that is as long as close to fifty years like your case. Such a case is very hard to find in the States. Why did you decide to live here your entire life? Albert: I have been living here for forty six years because my husband was a successful businessman. He was doing very well with his business here in Jacksonville. He died on November 30, 1995. My children and I took over his business and, thanks are to God, we are doing very well. During this period, we used to meet regularly in the Salam Club. This is an Arab social club. My son George is currently the president of this club here in Jacksonville, Flori da. Alhadi: I am interested to know more about this club. When was it established and what was the purpose behind establishing it and what does it do now? Albert: This club is 100 years old now. As a matter of fact, this coming May fifth will mark its one hundredth anniversary. They are planning a jubilee celebration. It is a social club with aims to give Arab people and families a space to meet, socialize, and to get to know each other. It also undertakes some activities that aim to give the young m en and women a platform to work together on and to get to know each other and create constructive social relations between them.

PAGE 4

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 4 Alhadi: And it is one hundred years old now. Albert: True. Alhadi: Did it have the name of Salam Club from the very beginnin g? American. It too had that name from the very beginning and continued up to the present. My son, Dr. George Albert, is the current president, as I mentioned e arlier. If I can get your number, I will give it to them in case they want to invite you for the Diamond Jubilee. Alhadi: It is very important for us to know about this and I would love to be there. I will give you my e mail address later. I am going to follow many examples similar to this one among other Arab communities. I would like you to tell us more about the activities this club undertakes in Jacksonville and also I want to know if these activities are restri cted to Arab people or open to the American community? Albert: It began as a society for the Arab families and one of their activities is an annual convention called the SLAC Convention. Alhadi: What is this convention for? Albert: They give talks, or ganize sessions to get to know each other because SLAC is a gathering for all Arab clubs in America. It is a good opportunity for the all the members to socialize together and have fun. Many of the young men and women get to know each other through these activities and many of them end up married after getting to know each other through the club activities. Families encourage this and they want to see those young men and women close to each other.

PAGE 5

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 5 Alhadi: This is very good. I still need to know if the club is open to the American society and if you invite Americans to attend your activities and to show them an image of Arabic culture. Albert: The club activities are now on the web. We are now considering the idea of a museum to commemorate the accomp lishments of the outstanding Arab individuals from earlier times onward. contributions to the wider American society? Albert: Yes. It will be here in Jacksonville. Alhadi: I hope we get to know about it when it comes into reality. Albert: Sure. If you give me your number, I will give it to my son and will make sure he informs you when this museum will happen. Alhadi: This is very important. Albert: Yes. And this museum is going to cover the Arab communities all over America. Alhadi: By the way, I am also a museum professional. This is my field. Albert: Good. A lady with the name of Helen I forgot her last name was helping us with the planning. We met her in one of the Salam Club meetings. Alhadi: I hope we talk later about it. I will give you my number to give it to your son so we can stay in touch. Albert: Sure. Alhadi: Let us now move on to something else. You are a businesswoman and you are managing your fam business women. Would you please tell us a bit about your business? What kind of

PAGE 6

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 6 business is it, and how is it for you as an Arab lady to deal with business? Did you encounter any problem ? Albert: My husband started this business and then my sons and I continued managing it after he died. He was truly successful in his business. The business was composed of twelve convenience stores with gas stations. After my sons started going to sch ool, we decided to sell some part of the business, but we kept the buildings. After every one of my children joined a university, I continued to keep up with the business. Thanks are to God, we are doing fine and the business is still successful. Alhadi: How many stores do you still have? Albert: We are now renting five of them and sold the rest. Albert: Not at all. My study of management and marketing here helped me a lot to keep up with my business. Alhadi: Do you mind telling us a little bit more about your sons and daughter? You mentioned that they are born and had their education here in America. A lbert: My older son, Elian Albert, finished Bishop Kenny High School and then joined St. Joseph University in Indiana. He graduated with two separate degrees. One of them was in business with a minor in finance, and the other one was in economics. My s econd son is Jack Albert and was helping with the management of the stores with his dad. The third one is a chiropractor. He graduated from Life University in Atlanta, Georgia. My daughter graduated in Orlando. She has a psychiatrist degree. She got m arried to Adonis Al Butrus who is also a psychiatrist.

PAGE 7

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 7 Alhadi: Are all your sons living here in Jacksonville? Albert: The boys live here but my daughter is in Oklahoma City. Her husband works there. He got his M.D. certificate from the University of Da mascus. He came here to specialize in psychiatry and started practicing psychiatric medicine in Oklahoma. Alhadi: Your sons were all born and educated here. You also spent most of your life here. I want to know about your connections with Syria and if you are still maintaining some connections with the people there. Albert: I love Syria. Although I lived in the country for forty six years and only my first twenty years were in Syria, but I still love it. k to Syria? Albert: I went there whenever one of my brothers got married. I went to attend their wedding ceremonies. I still love it and I still miss it. Alhadi: When did you go there last time? Albert: I was there two years ago. Whenever I go back to Alnabk my tears come down. That is where I was born and raised. I dearly miss it. All my sons got married from Syria although they were all born and raised here. My thirty four years old son went to Syria and got married there. His wife is an engi neer and he got to know her when she came to got married. My third son got married to a Mexican girl with Syrian roots. Although we all love Syria, we are here living within the American society which we love and are proud of.

PAGE 8

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 8 community? Is there a strong connection, integration, and communication between them? Albert: Yes, there is a connection through the club. We also used to have another association called Mar Ephraim Association that had a number of social and cultural gatherings and meetings. In many cases, we invited doctors to tell us about medicines and vitamins and other sub jects. One time Jihan Al Sadat and her husband came to Jacksonville, Florida. I and another six ladies went to visit her for one hour. Alhadi: When was this? Albert: It has been a while. Her husband was still a president. Alhadi: This means it was be fore 1981, the year when Sadat was killed. Albert: True. It was before that. She came here and we went to meet her. Syrian and Lebanese ladies? Albert: You can say that it has a range of nationalities. We have Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Lebanese women. We are all friends and we love each other. Alhadi: Let me ask you Mrs. Albert, you came here as an immigrant Arab woman. What do you feel America has give n you? Albert: I came here while I was still young. I consider myself to have been raised in this country. It gave me a chance to culture myself through university education here. I also learned many good things and customs. I have no doubt that I ben efited a lot for my cultural and social life, and more importantly, financially, that helped me to make a good living.

PAGE 9

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 9 Alhadi: This is a hypothetical question. Do you think you could have achieved what you have achieved if you had remained in Syria? Do you think your life would have had been the same if you remained there? Albert: I think I would have been happy in Syria too. I could have finished my education there. I could have built a good social status too. This is because I love social life and s ocial gatherings. I also love to integrate with others. Alhadi: You came here while you were still a young woman. Is there anything you feel that you miss in Syria? Albert: I feel that I miss my colleagues and the country as a whole. Alhadi: It is no doubt that life here and there are quite different. Albert: Very different. I was able to adapt to life here. In spite of that, I still love living in Syria. I went there ten years ago, after being away for eleven years. I took my older son who was th en thirty four years old with me. My plan was to stay for only one month. While I was there, everybody in my family back here kept calling me and asking why I was late. I told them I extended my period of stay in Syria. In fact, I remained there for fo ur months. I was very happy and had no problem adapting to life there. If you have the money, then there will be no problem to have a good life there or anywhere. Alhadi: We are very happy to have you today. We became aware of your personality and hist ory through the information you provided us. It was great meeting you. Albert: I am happy too to be with you and to get to know you and to talk to you about my life in Syria and here. Alhadi: Thank you. As I told you earlier, I will remain in touch to know more the club and its activities.

PAGE 10

Mary Yazji Albert, 12/3/2011, Draft 2, Page 10 Albert: I just want to mention that [I] was the head of the Mar Ephram association for ten years. Alhadi: That is good. Thank you one more time. I hope we get another chance to meet again and talk. Albert: God w illing. [END OF INTERVIEW]