Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our New Truck!

Iskashitaa keeps on TRUCKIN' but now we actually have a truck for harvesting and transporting sewing and crafts donations, thanks to Laura Aldag and Curt Reinbold's generosity! This is a dream come true for Iskashitaa's director, who is finally understanding the old age adage "If you do not ask, people do not know that you need." Many, many thanks, Laura and Curt! Enjoy your newly purchased vehicle as we reap the benefits of the donation of your former truck - recycling at its best!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011





Now on sale! Iskashitaa Apple Butter!
Ingredients: apples, water, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, love.

All of our tasty food products make great stocking stuffers or hostess gifts!

Pick some up today at Tu Cocina at Old Town Artisans!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Help Us Re-launch Our Swimming Program
As you may have read in the local news, a four-year-old refugee boy residing in a Tucson apartment complex drowned in the apartment's closed swimming pool on July 31st, 2011. Iskashitaa staff mourned with the family as they spread his cremains and vowed to work to find inspiration in this tragedy. In January of 2012 Iskashitaa will be restarting the pool safety and swimming lessons for refugees. We are hard at work finding funding and volunteers as the date nears. If you know of a local business that would be interested in supporting this life saving programming or if you would like to volunteer please contact Beth at

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Breaking Down Stereotypes
by Taylor Corcoran, Iskashitaa HCET Intern

Before moving here, most of the individuals Iskashitaa works with likely had preconceived notions of what life in America was like. I had always assumed that my own stereotypes about refugees would factor in to how I interact with individuals during harvests and ESL classes, but I had never stopped to consider what role their ideas about us may play in the acculturation process. When I analyze my stereotypes pertaining to refugees, I realize that my strongest idea is that the majority of refugees come from impoverished, underdeveloped nations with poor systems of education. I am glad that, even within the first month of interning with Iskashitaa, this stereotype has begun to crumble. I have harvested with individuals who ran their own businesses in their former lives, spoken with families who had everything in their home country and lost it all when they moved here, and shared the common experience of being human with those whose language and culture differ from my own.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Volunteer of the Month: Georgia Andersen
Georgia Andersen has been quilting up a storm for Iskashitaa! Her beautiful quilts will be featured in our auction at La Cocina on November 22. Georgia has personally cleaned out her craft closet and donated sewing and quilting supplies for refugees to use. She has also encouraged friends to do the same. In addition, Georgia has helped during Sewing and Crafts Supplies Redistribution days to assist refugees who are receiving the gifts of her generosity. Thank you for all you do, Georgia!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Adventures in Harvesting with Mike Parelskin, Harvesting and Food Preservation Coordinator

With my cup of coffee drained, I hooked up the trailer to my bicycle, wheeled my tiny wagon train through the front door and headed to work. With a hot lead on a pomegranate tree from Barbara, permission granted by the owner, and a picker in tow, I was ready to harvest!

I pedaled northeast navigating across town and eventually made my way to the wonderful Winterhaven neighborhood, where I found the tree shimmering in a light breeze. It was in the middle of a patch of grass growing so green I had to squint to be sure I wasn't having hallucinations of a desert oasis. Softball-sized fruits glowing bright red, like ornaments on a Christmas tree, dangled delicately looking delicious as leaned my bicycle carefully against a fencepost.

I attacked the tree with vigor akin to a kitten and efficiency similar to that of a kindergartener working on a 1,000-piece puzzle. The branches were sharp and every other fruit was either just far enough away that I needed the picker, or just close enough that I had to drop the picker and wrangle the fruit off the branch by hand. Alright, I'm new to this I admit. Next I decided to take a methodical approach; I worked my way around the tree, pulling off a gaggle of pomegranates within arm's reach, and then switched to the picker for the more elusive ones. Then I crawled underneath the low branches into the shade and picked the hard-to-see fruit from the inside out. After a few rounds of this and a few hours, I had harvested close to 100 lbs of big, juicy, sweet pomegranates!

The only problem: my bike trailer's weight limit is 75 lbs. Well, I thought, I have to get this fruit to the office somehow. I loaded my trailer to the brim, fastened my helmet securely, and cautiously eased my bicycle into the street. It felt very heavy. Kerplunk! My bicycle and trailer tipped over and the pomegranates rolled every which way like Iskashitaa volunteers at an apple harvest. A few choice words escaped like the fruit from my trailer. I pushed my bike back up with a considerable effort, moved it to the fencepost to pick up the scattered pomegranates and reloaded it for a second try. This time I successfully worked my way up to speed and slowly made it back to the office.

Limes & Pomegranates
Local Limes & Pomegranates

If you would like to join me for an exciting harvest like this one, by bike or car, let me know! Email me at

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Iskashitaa & Tucson Meet Yourself
Tucson Meet Yourself

What a weekend! Thousands of people traveled to Tucson Meet Yourself during the weekend of the 14th and Iskashitaa was proud to be part of the excitement. Ten refugees worked as artisans exhibiting their crafts and showing visitors their beautiful work. We had basket weavers, loom weavers, knitters, and a bead maker demonstrating with us as Iskashitaa staff helped taught visitors about our work. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to support our work and visit with us. We had a wonderful time!

"Wasn't it fabulous? I loved all your artists and your demonstrations at this year's Tucson Meet Yourself. Your group was engaging and beautifully demonstrated your living traditions. I could have sat and watched Ismail for hours. I liked the way Beth set up the tables and the chairs so the group was more accessible to the visitors. Thank you all for your involvement and for the joyful participation of your artists. I hope they made a lot of money in the store! I hope we work together again, soon!" - Monica

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giffords Staffer Speaks About Volunteering with Refugees

Pam Simon, a community outreach representative of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and longtime friend of Iskashitaa, gave a speech at the 2011 Arizona Refugee Resettlement Conference on September 8th. Her speech was extremely dynamic and eloquent, speaking to the challenge many refugees face when adjusting to life in a new country, how the Tucson community can assist in this adjustment and finally, how much cultural exchange, dialogue and a realization of shared experiences can happen when volunteers and refugees work together.

Pam mentored a family from Africa and shared how powerful meeting with a family can be. "I take very little credit but a friend of mine became that one person that made a difference in the life of our African family."

She helped them get library cards, make trips to the food bank, sign up for boys and girls club, get a physical for soccer, and figure out the bus routes to adult education classes. A year and a half later, the boys all speak excellent English and are getting good grades. One boy is looking forward to college and being able to help support the family. They have dreams that could never even been considered in a refugee camp.

"Knowing this family has been a gift in my life and I share this story with neighbors, friends and relatives. To be a volunteer is a small investment of time with incredible rewards on both sides."

She also spoke to the ways that the community can get involved into the lives of refugees, whether it is a big commitment or small. "My call to action is that we must share the story of the refugee. Whether it is a church, civic group or business we need to share the joy of being involved with these amazing people who share our communities. Maybe all someone needs to be a volunteer is someone else saying, 'I will go with you.'"

Pam's words inspired all of us at Iskashitaa to keep doing what we love, which is working with refugees, listening to their stories, and learning from them. We encourage you to get involved with us to continue the collaboration and exchange. Come harvest and learn Nepali from Bhutanese refugees, cook recipes from Iraq, learn how to basket weave the Burundian way, or become a family mentor and visit with a family each week. Contact the volunteer coordinator if you are interested in learning more about our opportunities.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

All Day! November 22: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
La Cocina Restaurant in Tucson, Arizona

Did you tell a friend? Are you bringing a refugee? Stop in and Say HELLO! This is our biggest event of the year and we can't do it without your support!

Photo by Jodi B. Darling

Monday, November 21, 2011


All Day! November 22: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
La Cocina Restaurant in Tucson, Arizona

Photo by Jodi B. Darling

Door Prizes, Great Food, Beautiful performances, All of your Iskashitaa and Refugee friends!!

See you there!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ideas for Pomegranate



Spice up your pasta salad or spinach salad!

They make a dynamite addition to guacamole.

We use them in salads with smoked trout.

Juice and add to smoothies, freeze in ice cube trays.

Use them in pesto and (which also freezes well in ice cube trays)!

Try them on vanilla ice cream or with yogurt and milk.

Cook up a quick compote for pancakes and waffles or with ham, pork chops, or lamb.

Add them to pumpkin muffins in the fall.

They work well in couscous salad, with arugula, pine nuts and crumbled feta.

Use a citrus-y dressing.

Oh, and you can put them in cottage cheese, too.

Make wonderful Chile Relleno with pomegranate seeds.

Or top slices of baguette with slices of brie. Broil until starting to melt (1-2 min) and then top with the pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate and green apple salad: pomegranate seeds, shredded green apple, and toasted slivered almonds, over crisp iceberg lettuce with a lemon, grainy mustard, honey, and olive oil dressing.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday Harvests


Annie & Tucker

Have you met Tucker and Annie yet? They are working the gardens and trees of Tucson each Friday with volunteers and refugees. In October they have picked limes and pomegranates, explored new types of spinach, and taught us all a bit about Jerusalem artichokes. They even harvested amaranth:


They are learning about Iskashitaa as they plan their own harvests and enjoy the outdoors. Don't miss out on their fun trips from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. each Friday morning!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

laLa Cocina FUNdraiser:
All Day! November 22: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Photo by Jodi B. Darling

Come see the beauty of UNHCR and Iskashitaa's work. Join us at the beautiful La Cocina restaurant at Old Town Artisans (201 N Court Ave) on November 22 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. From 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., refugees will demonstrate their crafts and refugee-made crafts will be available to purchase. From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., we will feature refugee entertainment including dancing and singing, as well as a silent and live auction.

FUNdraiserEnjoy a dish from the globally inspired locally conscious dinner menu or a drink from the affordable yet eclectic wine and beer selection. During the event, La Cocina will donate ten percent of all food and drink profits to Iskashitaa! Try the Iskashitaa-inspired dessert made from locally harvested apples and pears from Brown's Orchard.

We will also be collecting canned goods for the Community Food Bank. This is a time of great need leading up to the holiday season. Please clean out your pantry and help us spread our reach further. Learn more about the work of the Community Food Bank by stopping by their information table.

Help us make this night a success! Donate items for our auction! Do you own a business? Show your support for Iskashitaa by donating your services or products. Don't own a business? Then ask your friends! All donations are tax deductible. Contact us to make a donation. This Thanksgiving season, most of us have all that we truly need. Let's work together to support an organization helping new Tucsonans who have survived so much to get here, and now need our friendship and gifts of time and talent.

See you there!