About Me

Reflective discussion questions

1. What do all the interviewees have in common?
Possible answers: They are all males, of Yemeni heritage, and have Arabic names.

Comparative discussion questions and activities

1. If you had a chance to meet the Yemeni American youths what would you tell them about yourself? Make a list of the five most important things you would want them to know.

Methodology question

1. Based on what each says in the video About Me, select one of the Yemeni American youths and write five questions you would like to ask him.

2. What do you think the interviewer asked the Yemeni youths to get them to introduce themselves? Write two questions that could have been asked that led to the responses in the video. One of the questions should be open-ended (a question with no specific answer.) What would you ask them to get information not presented in video?

Whats in a name?

In About Me, the first in this series of interviews, you see and hear the Yemeni American youths introduce themselves in this order: Kais, Ali, Hadram, Rakan, Mohamed, Abraham, and Saleh.

Like your name, most likely given to you by your parents, Arabic and Yemeni names also convey certain meanings—some originate in religion and history, are derived from nature, refer to geographical locations, and still others connote certain dispositions and attributes.

The following are the meanings associated with the names of the Yemeni Americans youths featured in Voices from the Heartland:

Mohamed (also spelled Muhammad) is the most common and revered Muslim name. It is the name of the messenger and prophet to whom God (Allah) revealed the Quran—the holy book that binds Muslims worldwide together as a community of believers. The name Muhammad means praiseworthy.

Ali is another exalted Muslim name. Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad and an important figure in early Islamic history. Ali means noble, sublime, excellent, the greatest.

Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) is the common patriarch that binds Muslims, Christians, and Jews. He is considered a prophet by Muslims and it is said that his son Ismail is the father of the Arabs. Abraham/Ibrahim means father of a multitude. One of the most famous Americans is Abraham Lincoln.

Saleh is the name of a Muslim prophet. It means good, right.

Rakan means knight in Arabic.

Kais according to E.J. Brill's first Encyclopedia of Islam refers to a north Arabian tribe.

Hadram may refer to a region called Wadi Hadramaut in the southern part of Yemen.    

Some Arabic names you may know

Many Arabic and Muslim names have American equivalents. For example: Eisa or Isa is Jesus; Hawwah is Eve; Ibrahim is Abraham; Ishaq is Isaac; Musa is Moses; Maryam is Miriam; Nuh is Noah; Suleiman is Solomon; Yahya is John; Yaqub is Jacob; Yusuf is Joseph.

You can decipher Muslim names by consulting the following website:







♦ Retrospectives

♦ Celebrating Ethnicity