Oklahoma Contemporary

Station 1

Station 1 audio

Huge white industrial textile tents form tent cities for refugees in countries such as Germany and Greece, housing over a million displaced people who survived their perilous journeys.

Narration transcripts

Carina Evangelista (Tagalog, translated)
"I pledge allegiance to the Philippine flag." This is uttered by every child at school each morning. A pledge to love a country that has long subjected itself to the greed of those in power such that despite its rich natural resources, it is way beyond its borders that hope can be seen. I am just one of millions of Filipinos who live in other parts of the world because it is not in the Philippines where one could find life-sustaining work; it is not in the Philippines that life free of oppression, poverty, or danger can be found.

Karen Khanagov (English)
If you look into the way people live, and you look into the architecture of all the cathedrals and monasteries and all of it, it goes thousands of years back, at least a couple thousand years; it’s all Armenian type, Byzantine style of architecture. But Azerbaijanis started claiming this territory as their own. Azerbaijan as a nation didn’t even exist until the turn of the century. They were called Caucus Tatars. Tatar is like Mongolian kind…They don’t look like Tatars, but anyway...They fought over this territory for a long enough time, and with the help of Turkey they of course completely swallowed that territory, and these days it’s no longer Armenian—everybody left.

Maria Trejo (Spanish, translated)
When I went to look for work as a maid, I remember perfectly that they asked me: "Where are you from?" And I tell them I am from Honduras. "No, dear, we do not hire from Guatemala that is so close, much less a Honduran," and they did not give me work.

I ended up dancing. I put on shorts and a blouse, and they already told me that the only thing I had to do was to accompany people to drink, and if they invited me to drink, I was going to get a commission, and they were going to give me a salary of 100 pesos. At that time when you do not have anything to eat, you do not have anything to pay the rent—wow, 100 pesos is a lot of money! I said that's enough, because I had a baby, and I didn't even have money to buy her milk. And so I stayed, and little by little I got into that environment.

But I think it was the best decision, because after I arrived I met a person, and today he is my husband. We have been together seven years; we got married, thank God.

He has never reproached me for my past. When he asked me to get together I said “No, why? I have four girls; you cannot support me!” And he told me, "I can do that and more, my queen." I remember that after some time passed, he proposed five times, and I said no because how am I going to get tied up like that? And then I went to a church, and I heard that when you get married—if you have God in your home, in your mind, in your heart—you keep a blessed home. Then I thought, "Well, I need to get married." And we got married after all, and I got pregnant with my baby.

Maria Trejo, song (Spanish, translated)
As I know Honduras and I agree with anyone
Today I ask you all if you know my nation,
where are the most famous beautiful ruins of Copan
where there are rivers that drag pure and unrivaled gold
in Honduras, in Honduras, the noble birthplace of Francisco Morazán,
where there is a rain of fish like a celestial miracle,
where there is a virgin queen and national mother
in Honduras, in Honduras, the noble birthplace of Francisco Morazán
where you've seen a flag remembering union
where there's land for everyone who wants to work
in Honduras, in Honduras, the noble birthplace of Francisco Morazán
where the most beautiful women are, this is how they give themselves from the heart
where there are men who give themselves forever to a woman
in Honduras, in Honduras, the noble birthplace of Francisco Morazán.

Karen Khanagov (English)
In summer of '89, some little event started happening—by events I mean killing—by certain groups of Azerbaijanis. They started killing Armenians. It had kind of three waves to it: one, it was a certain city…close to Baku, about thirty-minute drive, and all these groups came and started killing whoever they could find—there was few hundred people at that time. So that was first wave. Second wave was sporadic; it was here and there. People would kill one person here, one person there. People were concerned about me. My father went to buy bread, which was across the street, one block down maybe five minutes' walk at the most. And when he was coming back, same-looking person on the other side of the street was killed, with a nail sticking out of him. That was their weapon. They thought he was Armenian, and actually he was not. My father who went through six years of war, including four years of the Second World War, and then he came home sick. At that point I decided, okay, I’ve had enough. And many people left by then.

Yelda (English)
My dad had a nice job in Afghanistan, and we had a good life over there. So we had a house, we had a car, he had a nice job. So we were good over there until we moved to Iran. Once we moved to Iran, he didn’t have that good job, but he had to work. He had to find a job for living. So most of Afghan people in Iran, they are not working. If they are working, they should hide because they can get arrested. We really had a hard time; they were giving hard time to Afghan people. They were not hiring them, first of all. If they were hiring them, they were using them. It was a really hard time, we really had a hard time in Iran. And then, we have seen a lot of people having a hard time; they’ve been arrested. So my dad had a popcorn, I don’t know what they call it here, that thing where they are selling popcorn, you know? They are making popcorn? He had to sell popcorn to make some money for the family. I think he is a hero. Yeah. He is.

Irma Vasquez (Spanish, translated)
Well, basically I came to the United States when I was 22, 21 years old. When I was in Mexico, I was studying in university, and I left my studies because I came here. Well, in context, my parents are divorced, and my dad has lived here (in Oklahoma) all his life. When we were in Mexico, my dad told us he wanted to see us. So we had the possibility to arrange our papers, and he wanted us to come and live here.

We started having problems with my dad because of his wife, who behaved badly with us. And well, very unpleasant things happened there, and oh no, my dad decided that we had to leave his house. And basically that's when we started having problems surviving in this country. My sisters returned home, as we had many problems with my dad—it was more of an ego thing, maybe.

He told us once that we were not going to survive in this country if he did not help us, but I stayed here to show him that yes, yes, I was going to be able to survive. I decided to leave everything I had in Mexico. Well it was not much, you know? But I was studying at the university, I was already going to be an educated girl, and I decided to leave everything to show that I could. Well, I started working and doing a little badly because the jobs are not very well paid for girls who don't have documents in Oklahoma—well, anywhere.

Carina Evangelista (Tagalog, translated)
The challenge of life shaped by flight is how to shape the chapter of now and of tomorrow without bitterness over the chapter closed. Love what is past—the life abandoned, the life shed. Love the new life unfolding—the new home adopted. Be observant. Be analytical. Be grateful. But always eyes wide open. Just because one landed on the shore of what might be viewed as the beacon of democracy, be aware that it is not free of exploitation, of deception, of injustice, or of its power to crush your spirit and your humanity. Hold precious your dignity. Hold precious the dignity of others, too. If you value your freedom and your rights but you do not recognize these values apply to others, what you value is your privilege

Sang Rem (English)
We were in North Carolina for a year and a half. My father moved here, because he found a better job opportunity in Oklahoma, so six months later we all moved here. And since then, since 2010, I’m here, in Oklahoma City. After we moved here, we were in this two-bedroom apartment, eight people living in that apartment for about three years. And then when I first moved here, my very first American people that I met was Brad Bandy. He is the co-founder of the Spero Project. He would come to our apartment and play music with my brothers; we’d sing, sharing food and stuff. It was super fun, and that’s how I got connected with Spero.

And then about three years later, my parents bought a house. I lived there for many years, then I got married. So I am with my husband now, and we live in an apartment. I got the opportunity to work with Spero a few years later, and I have been with Spero for seven years, and I love what I am doing. This is for me!

Audio narrators:
Carina Evangelista, originally from Philippines, speaking Tagalog. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Karen Khanagov; Armenian, grew up in Soviet-occupied Azerbaijan; speaking English. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Maria Trejo, originally from Honduras, speaking Spanish. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Yelda, originally from Afghanistan, speaking English. Recorded in Buffalo, New York.

Irma Vasquez, originally from Mexico, speaking Spanish. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Sang Rem, originally from Burma, speaking English. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Video figures:
Gerald Ramsey
Maria and Tom Ta
Craig Mangus
Pamela Rose Mangus
Philip Knoerzer
Maria Trejo
Abdula, Ahalulla, Hidyagua, Fayeka, and Maryam Abdulghafar
Ellen Horst
Tom Owens


Monday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Closed Tuesday

Wednesday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

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Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Phone: 405 951 0000
Fax: 405 951 0003

Oklahoma Contemporary
P.O. Box 3062
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

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