Alia Ali: Peace…. this is What it’s all About, Isn’t it? Or is it War? Or is it Power?

“I initially thought that I would pursue a law degree but realized that, in fact, one doesn't necessarily gain justice through law it's more about who's telling the story better.” Alia Ali

Alia Ali (Austria, 1985) is a Yemeni-Bosnian-American multi-media artist.

Having traveled to sixty-three countries, lived in seven and grown up among five languages, her most comfortable mode of communication is through image and multi-sensory mediums.

Her extensive travels have led her to process the world through interactive experiences.

As a child of two linguists, Alia believes that the interpretation of verbal and written language has dis-served particular communities and presents more of a threat than a means of understanding.

Emy diGrappa (00:00):

Support for this podcast is brought to you by the Wyoming Humanities. We take a closer look at our human experiences and new stories to explore culture, history, and contemporary issues. You can find us on

Alia Ali (00:12):

I think that there's something really important about being alone as a woman, being careful and being aware, but also knowing how to be alone.

Emy diGrappa (00:32):

Hello. I'm Emy diGrappa. This is What's Your Why. Each week, we bring you stories asking our guests the question why. We learn about their passion, why they do what they do, why should we care, and what can we learn. What better place to explore the human landscape then from the state known for its incredible landscapes, Wyoming and what better organization than Wyoming Humanities. Serving our state for over 45 years, we share stories, ideas and wisdom about the human experience. Welcome to What's Your Why.

                 Today, we are talking to Alia Ali. She is a Yemeni-Bosnian-American multimedia artist. Having traveled to 63 countries, lived in seven and grown up among five languages, her most comfortable mode of communication is through image and multisensory mediums. Welcome, Alia.

Alia Ali (01:36):

Thank you so much Emy for having me here. It's a real privilege. Thank you. It's great to be here.

Emy diGrappa (01:41):

Oh, thank you for being here. My first question is where did you grow up?

Alia Ali (01:46):

Well, I come from two countries that no longer exist. I was born in 1985 in Vienna, Austria. That was just by chance, but actually we were living in North Yemen in Sana'a. My mother comes from Sarajevo and my father comes from South Yemen, from Taizz. They actually met on a plane across the aisle. So my brother and I, we grew up in South Yemen. We went to a Yemeni public school, because my mother wanted to make sure that we could speak Arabic, but she also wanted us to see the world. So she was a linguist, she was a professor, and whenever she had the chance, she would take us to travel with her to go when she was conducting symposiums or lectures. And so we had the chance to visit places like India, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Istanbul and of course, Sarajevo.

                 So every summer we would go and spend the summer with my maternal side of the family in Sarajevo. But then in 1992, Yugoslavia would divide and what would later be known as the one of the worst genocides in Europe, especially after the holocaust, which had only happened 50 years before. And it was an ethnic clans of Muslims. We, at this time, were living in Yemen, which in and of itself was also going through a series of civil wars that were meant to unite these two countries and many different tribes.

                 In 1994, we actually experienced and lived through the war there. And during this time, q- it was quite a significant time, because over these years, my father didn't really have appropriate papers because the country didn't exist. My mother didn't really have appropriate papers, because that country didn't exist. So we were sort of in this limbo. And as a child, I remember experiencing this by trying to get visas to go to places.

                 Well, we weren't evacuated from there. The war was still going on in Bosnia. Later on, we would come to the United States and we were naturalized. And we lived in Bloomington, Indiana. And that was wonderful for a while. And then of course, September 11th hit. And suddenly, we felt this sort of alienation, ostracism, and harassment. My family experienced quite a bit of that actually.

                 But in the following year, I was really fortunate to get a ... I mean, I sort of just immersed myself in school. And this is something that I really adore about the United States, which is sort of unlike any other place in the world where when you say something is merit based, it's truly merit based. And I just worked hard. I immersed myself into my language classes, into my art classes.

                 And I've ... Throughout you know, growing up, just kind of, uh, seeing injustices happened, I actually wanted to pursue law. And I got a scholarship to be one of 50 Americans, um, that would go to an international school to sort of represent the United States. And I ended up going to Wales. And I spent two years and I did the International Baccalaureate Program. And it was an international setting, and I just thrived in it, and I could speak my mind. I could attend protests. I could get very active in social justice.

                 And because of the school, I also had the opportunity to apply to ... You know, I mean, obviously at this point, identity was sort of an issue. You know, what am I? Am I American? Am I, you know, now, am I Yemeni? Am I Bosnian? But one thing that I was very sure was that I was a woman, and I wanted to go and explore this. And I applied to a college in Massachusetts. It was an all women's college called, Wellesley College. And I got in on full scholarship.

                 And it was an incredible experience. It was there that I initially thought that I would pursue law, but realized that in fact, one doesn't necessarily gain justice through law. It's more about who's telling the story better, (laughs). And so I decided to take two years off. I moved to Vietnam. I lived there for two years and I taught English. But I was also ... for a culture that was so far away from anything that I knew or anything that I understood, I was so immersed into it by the arts.

                 I attended exhibitions. I met artists, um, and I became very close friends with a couple that were documentary filmmakers. One of whom was American and the other was Tibetan. And they'd found a home in Ho Chi Minh City in Saigon. And so I can ... decided I've still had my scholarship for Wellesley, and I came back and I decided that I wanted to focus on film and possibly documentary film, because I wanted to give the same effect about my country, about Yemen here.

                 The feeling that I got about Vietnam, I wanted to sort of express it here. And so I ended up doing a documentary, um, about Yemen called, "Al-Qabila," which means the tribe. And during this time, I realized that everything, even in documentary, you can't really reach a sense of objectivity. In a documentary, it- in and of itself, it is subjective. Every frame, I had 72 hours of footage, and every frame that was chosen and the order that it was put in, and how it was narrated, and who was narrating it all became my story.

                 But that was still fictional. It was subjective. It was through my lens. And I stepped away from it to think about how is it possible to raise questions? This is how I fell in love with art and looked at art in a different way. Art raises questions, but it doesn't necessarily promise answers. It promises more questions. Who am I to tell anyone or my viewer or who's anyone for that matter tell me how I should think, what I should think. But I'm interested in what they're- they're- they're questioning, what they're thinking about.

                 So I took sort of a time. I moved to Morocco and got involved with the arts in Marrakech, and decided that I would fully commit to being an artist in about, in 2014. And, um, my first project was to go to different countries, um, and feed my imagination. So imagination in and of itself is also a language, right? But it's a language that we need to feed.

                 For example, um, I was speaking to you about your daughter. And so she lives abroad and she speaks all these languages, and she speaks Spanish all the time. And she was telling you, "Mom, I'm just not speaking English anymore. It's- It's hard for me to get that word again." Of course, language like anything is something that you need to practice, right? I think in our imagination and to feed our dreams, that's the same thing. We need to feed ourselves more images. We need to travel. We need to read. We need to expose ourselves to artists, to museums, even if it's things that we just really disagree with, or that there's something that makes me ... makes one feel uncomfortable.

                 Sometimes the work that I've been exposed to that makes me feel the most uncomfortable are the ones that I've had the most impact, because that's where growth happens. You know, comfort is something that can also be very dangerous, so it doesn't help us grow. And so it's those that makes me kind of look back on myself and say, "What is it about that that made me so upset? What did it trigger? What did it hit?" And I hope that my work will somehow create psychic shifts.

                 Um, so I guess I should explain. I ... My medium is photography. You know, I went from film. How could ... I thought, "Well, how can I do film, which is actually a series of still images put together if I don't understand how to appreciate the single frame?" And so I did a project as I started to say that was called, "Eyes Beacon Image," where I traveled to Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, India and back to Morocco. And it was a trajectory that was an infinity sign.

                 It was over a hundred days. I traveled by myself. And I traveled on $15 a day. And the goal was that that also had to include flights. Uh, so the goal was to let go of the fear of being comfortable, of being uncomfortable. I realized before this I had a really great job, and I was afraid of losing it because I was afraid of losing comfort, which was directly connected to money.

                 And so a really wonderful mentor and dear friend said, "Oh yeah, if you seek money, happiness may or may not come, but if you seek happiness, money is for certain to come." And so I went to think about what is it that would make me happy? And in fact, what would make me happy is to create dialog around things that I feel really I'm passionate about. And to use not only my experiences as a Yemeni and as a Bosnian, but also use my power as an American.

                 The United States has given me my education, uh, who I know is myself as a woman, as an independent woman, but also the opportunity to build bridges, to exist as a mediator across borders you know, with a blue passport. I can travel, I can experience other cultures, but somehow perhaps I can be an ambassador of peace and not this product of war that I was as a child. So art in you know, became a tool. A- a way of communicating much more universally than through language. Because language can also be alienating, right?

                 It can also limit who your viewers are. While I love to read, um, and in different languages, it sometimes makes me really sad to realize that some of the things that I read aren't translated. And even when they're translated, are they translated correctly? You know, and when you're dealing with things like music or the visual arts, then I think good art makes people move around it.

                 So I work with photography and I also create intricate framing structures around the photograph where I use textiles and I upholster the space. So the photographs are of objects or people that are entirely covered in fabric. And then the space, there are elements in the space that's either the ceding or the entire room, or the vase, um, that are covered in the fabric that is actually in the photograph.

Emy diGrappa (12:23):

And what- what is your message in those art pieces? Do you want there to be a message? What do you want people to walk away with when they look at one of your art pieces?

Alia Ali (12:32):

Well, we're now definitely in a time, and this is something that I see happens a lot in a country, which is built on its diversity in the United States. There's this human need to categorize people. On every form that we fill out, it asks what is your you know, gender, what is your race? And there's like five of them. You know, so you have like as White Caucasian, Black African-American, Native American, Latina or Latino, Hispanic and then other, right? (laughs)

                 And so that's ... There's that. And then you have female, male, other. You kind of have to negotiate with these and what does that even say about a person? And then by religion, ethnicity, your- you kind of fit into these categorization. So these are these ... This also create barriers. And so the fabric in my work actually references duality. It's supposed to represent ... It does represent the fabricated barriers in society that essentially we all have in common that unites us, but in and of itself divides us.

                 So like fabric, okay? Let's go. So fabric is something that we're born into, almost everybody in the world. You know, you're born ... You- You're swaddled in fabric. We sleep in it. We wake up in it. We eat on it. We clean with it. We define ourselves by it in terms of fashion. We, um, protect ourselves in the environment with it. And eventually, we die in it. And it is something that we all touch almost daily and yet it physically separates us from each other. It's fascinating.

                 But ... And this is how I also see how some of our categorizations. Well, it's not ...It's so beautiful that we see our differences. It can also be something to be, that's used against us. So in everything, everything existent duality. In order to truly appreciate light, you have to appreciate darkness. I was telling you yesterday, and this is a little digression, but in Morocco, they have these beautiful buildings, these houses that are called, "Riads." And from outside, 'cause you visited Morocco and we were talking about how you were saying that from the outside it just looks like any other place.

                 They're all sort of you know, clay houses. But the minute that you come inside, you come into this little corridor and everything is really dark. And when you walk through that corridor, you enter into this beautiful space, open space, open air space. And there's light that's streaming through, there are birds that are chirping, there's always a fountain. And the way that the structure is built is essentially that you cannot appreciate that courtyard. You cannot appreciate that light. You cannot appreciate those sounds, had you not first of all washed yourself away from all of them.

                 So it's about taking it away and then giving it back and experiencing that in a fresh and a different way. And I think my work, I'd like it to raise questions. So I approach this sort of, the different barriers in society that divide us. So for example, gender, borders, um, identity. I'm interested in mental spaces of confinement, but also physical spaces of confinement, about inclusion and exclusion.

                 So this is the first series that I worked on, which is called, "Cast no evil," where the portraits are auto portraits. I'm underneath the fabric and I'm photographing myself. And so I never actually see what it is that I'm photographing. And it can be anywhere from 10 photographs to hundred photographs, and I only pick one. So in this, I'm also examining the relationship of me as a photographer, but also as the subject, right? So I'm the person who's, uh, the observed and the observed. The victim and the culprit. Aren't we all of those at once?

                 And it would be a lie to say that we are only one side. Um, so how can we embrace both and only until we embrace both can we actually understand the relationship of them. So the first one ... So it was about inclusion and exclusion. This idea that we ... And about power. And also as an Arab artist, one of the things that people always talk about is the veil. But what is actually in the veil? And are o- is it only Muslim women that have the veil or that dawn the veil? Not at all. There are nuns, okay?

                 There's also, um, also in Judaism, you know, in Hacidic traditions that they do that. But then we can go even further and say, "What about hunters?" When hunters are hunting, don't they want to try to be as anonymous and as, as disguised as possible? Um, what about avatars? Aren't we all veiled today by our avatars when we go on Facebook? Those ... These are this curated ways of how we want people to see us, but we hide behind them in a way.

                 You know, this is how we can get ... There's bullying, there's trolls. We can even see this in history. And one of the works that I talked about even which is a diptych that I did and I talked about the American bandana. And I wanted to focus on what is the all American fabric, right? It came down to the Bandana. And when I looked at the history of the bandana, the bandana has its, uh, its history is fascinating. Some people believe that it came, that the paisley came by wa- way of Kashmir, which is on the border of India and Pakistan.

                 I believe that it came by by the Scottish. It came to the United States, at the time was not the United States. It was influenced also by Native American designs. Eventually, it becomes this epitome of the Western cowboy. Today is also something that defines contemporary gangs, right? So it's an emblem. It's something symbolic. It's something representative. I also looked at something else that is also ... that has been representative by something in the states and it was hoods.

                 And so working with black and white bandanas, I created two hoods that were identical. One, as you can see it, it's the white hood. And if we think about the symbolism and what that represents, it was represented and it still is by the KKK where you've had the masses of members of this group who used it to defuse the blame. It- They were hiding behind their anonymity in order to carry out heinous crimes, but it was also that nobody could tell who it was, and it could defuse a blame because it was everyone.

                 On the other hand, if you take that hood and you make it black, then what comes to me is an image that, uh, many people may have forgotten. But in 2004 I believe, it was discovered by some journalist that there was a hidden camp or prison in Iraq called, "Abu Ghraib." And there was a story that went viral, some photographs that went viral of, uh, men who were being tortured. And there was one of the Abu Ghraib pis- prisoner. And he was being held on top of a gasoline container and attached to him were circuits, were electric circuits. And on his head was a black hood.

                 And it was told to him apparently the form of torture was that if you fall asleep, then you will be electrocuted to death. And so it would be for days that they would be on here. Well, this photograph went viral, and of course it grazed all these protests. But what was interesting to me was how in one case, the hood was used as a form of power and of anonymity. And the other one was used for confinement.

                 So who is putting it on you? And are you putting it on yourself? Is ... You know, there ... It's so much more complex when we're thinking about the colors of things, what type of symbolism that's in the textiles, what it represents, what- what images come back to our mind. So yeah, so that was ... So these are some sort of themes that I work on. The last project that I did, which was quite large, which spend over nine months. And it started as a project called, "People of pattern."

                 And in 2015 and 2016, it was the lead up to the US elections. During this time, what I realized was that there were a lot of experiences that were kind of coming back to me, a lot of memories that were coming back from 15 years earlier from September 11th, you know? There were these you know, hate crimes. There was a lot of xenophobic h- but it was much larger. It wasn't just against Arabs and Muslims. It was ara- uh- against everyone. And it was scary. And I felt handicapped.

                 And art like I mentioned earlier was, is sort of the tool in which I work through some of these, these issues that I think about or that I'm facing. And it had come out that this sort of general terms that Mexicans are rapists. And that's where I just drew the line, because I have a lot of friends that are Mexicans who are hard, hard, hard working. And I looked at my own reflection of Mexico and I thought, "I don't know anything about Mexico."

                 And when I looked on Google and my Google images I found you know, there was ... There were some maps, and then there was like drug cartels and violence and little mice with like sombreros, and I thought, "This is crazy. What is this?" And then there was like Cinco De Mayo. And I looked further into and as you know, I'm a lover of textiles. And Mexico is probably one of the most advanced. You know, people think about it of India and Japan, which they certainly are some of the most advanced cultures in textile, but nobody thinks of Mexico and they are amazing.

                 And so I thought looking back at my own history of my grandmother used to ... in Yemen, she was illiterate and a lot of our history was written by the British or written by colonizers or invaders, or visitors and that those stories were sort of translated and then mistranslated on. But it was never in our own terms, or let's say in the terms of a person who had lived there all their lives like my grandmother. And she was a real tribes woman.

                 And so how did she communicate her stories? Well, she communicated it through her dresses and textiles. So she would dye them in the indigo, so it was literally a product of the earth. I mean, you've touched it and you touched Yemen. It was you know, the- the threads were dyed with the flowers and there was all of this symbolism that was in there and we come from a tribe who's- whose emblem is the snake. And the snake is meant to represent power and patience.

                 Well, in the West, the snake is something quite different. It's something conniving. It's something ... But for us, it's not. It was something powerful. And also in these textiles, she would embroider things ... Her- Her surroundings, so the animals even phenomenon that would happen in the sky. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. And so to me, this is sort of the most honest testament of how a Yemeni woman or a Yemeni in all would talk about their own culture. And I wanted to do the same way about other cultures and through sort of my lens.

                 And so I went to ... I started in Mexico in Oaxaca, and I was also hosted by a residency there, um, called, "Obracadobra." And I worked with artisans and with a f- wonderful man, um, [inaudible 00:24:09], who had opened me to the different types of textiles, weaving, embroidery, all of which had their own story and the type of dyes. It has one of the, the most expensive dyes there, um, caracol. And there's also cochineal. I mean, it's just incredible. Caracol is made from snails. And the snails don't even dye, and I'm talking thousands of snails.

                 And it p- p- produces these eels a sort of purple color, which during the colonization when the Spaniards came, it was actually the color of royalty, because it was the most expensive, because it was the hardest to get. So you can clearly see some of these connections. And everything had a story to it. So I photographed these artisans underneath their textiles. And so it was way of giving a portrait of the culture. It was a documentary on their own terms.

                 After that I went ... I did the same thing. I spent four to six weeks with artisans in Uzbekistan, Indonesia in Java and in Bali, in Japan, in Kyoto and Tyo- and Tokyo, in Vietnam, so in Hanoi, Sa Pa and Trà Vinh region, in Western India, in Kenya and in Nigeria. And so that can all be seen. And eventually, I brought it together to call it borderland. And why borderland? Because the topic of borders ha- is not only something that we're talking about in the United States, even though it feels like it's something that's so American. It's something that's happening all over the world.

                 And borders in effect are imprints of power. And there's scars of distraction. So even if the borders move or if they disappear, those scars still remain, and they remain a part of the identity of the people. And when we think about the people who live on borderlands, these areas, these regions around the borders, we think about it as a no man's land, right? It's sort of the trenches. It's sort of everything goes, no one's in charge, but in fact they're not scary places. Perhaps, they're just ... It's a question that I ask. Perhaps that they're territories of exploration.

                 You know, and so when I bring these photographs into a gallery setting and I upholster with some of the fabrics, different items inside the room in which people can also touch, and I encourage children to engage with it and touch it, and to also consider just like textiles, you know? This space is an area of exploration. It's a territory in which we can confront the other, but not necessarily linguistically. You know, when we look at it to look at the things that we actually have in common or to see the things that we don't have in common.

                 So for example, the snake is something that's also very precious in Mexico. And so that created something that was a connection for me and for them. You know, how different symbols are related and translated. Um, how different materials. So the textile, it's defined, you know? It's usually defined by the- the size of the, the loom. So whether it's a back strap loom or that's, I mean, that's pretty much how it is.

                 The same thing for paper. You can only print for how large the printer is. But everything inside is this territory of exploration. And so it seemed fitting to apply the paper, which the photographs are printed on, the textile, and also examine it in relation to borders.

Emy diGrappa (27:36):

(laughs). That is such an unusual and beautiful explanation and makes you really think about how what we wear and just the whole feeling of touching a textile, touching fabric and what that does to you, and whether it's Kashmir and- and just the feeling that it gives to you, but not really looking at the history of why it makes you feel that way. And I think that is such an unusual and really intricate explanation of how people can look at textiles all around us and really see that there's a world inside of them that we don't even think about on a daily basis.

Alia Ali (28:22):

Absolutely. Oh, absolutely. And I think it's also ... I mean, in different cultures in the world, um, I think you know, in the states perhaps it's not as much as it ... You know, definitely not as much but I know in Yemen for example we never ... It was very hard to get ready made clothes. Okay? So it was ... Growing up, it was a process to make clothes, but it was a really fun process. So we would go to ... There was always a street that had you know, it was the textile, it was the fabric street. And so you'd go and then you would have the merchants who would open the different types of fabrics and just sort of you sit on the ground and they, you know, they throw it on the ground and you're, you know, you're kind of covered by them. And you have tea, and it becomes a sort of a social event.

                 And there are other people there who are also looking at it and, and then you take-

Emy diGrappa (29:09):

It's like a ritual.

Alia Ali (29:10):

It's total ritual. And then you take that, whatever fabric that you choose, and it's also educational because from a very young age I could feel something and know is it brocade? Is it silk? Is it cotton? Is it linen? You know, how to care for it. And then you take that fabric and you think, "Oh, how much do I need for you know, a dress or for a skirt, or for a jacket?" And then you take it to the tailor. And then when you go to the tailor, you know, you have your measurements or they ha- already have your measurements, because the tailor is like a family member or the seamstress. I mean, they become very important in your life.

                 And you decide how many pockets you want. Do you- Do you want to have a zipper? Do you wanna have a button? Do you wanna have it on this side or that? So it's a whole creative kind of process. And then you go back home, and then they call you to come in to have a fitting and then you have the last fitting. And then it's where you're going to wear it. You know, if it's for a specific event, or if it's for the first day of school or if it's for the big holiday, and that whole process is something that is so special that in a way now, although I do have a lot of ready made clothes, um, it's something that my mother still does.

                 She does this really incredible jackets that on the outside are very sort of sophisticated and you know, very sharp, but once you open on the inside, it just has all of these beautiful silks as the, you know, as the lining that she embroiders with gold thread. And it's ... They're just unbelievable. Um, and because of that process, I ended up ... would get remanence, you know? So the tailor would give me all these remanence.

                 And when I came home, I would play with them. You know, because I didn't have ... Also, we didn't have things like Barbies and like the dolls would fall apart in no time. And it didn't really interest me to be honest. So I had this collection of fabrics, of different sizes, and I never cut them up because I knew exactly what would work. And my parents had this really great cassette, um, collection. And my three favorite cassettes were Ella Fitzgerald, Tina Turner, and Whitney Houston.

                 So I would get these fabrics and I would somehow become them, and I would tie up different parts of the room. And I would become these incredible women, right? These soulful women. And then I was also, I was also in love with National Geographic Magazine. And so my parents or friends of my parents would bring it in from outside. And those were also very precious, because they weren't available. So I would just look at the photographs over and over until I was ready.

                 And when I was ready and I decided what I would do with them, I would cut them up and put them into collages, but I had to be very careful, because they were really ... every photograph was really precious, you know, because you couldn't ... You couldn't go and just pick up another copy of that. And these experiences were some of the most beautiful experiences that I even carry with me today, and how interesting that even these artists, right, made a mark on a young girl in Yemen, you know, hundreds, thousands of miles away. And ended up influencing me in a way, and these kind of textiles ended up influencing me and it became a way that I decided to negotiate my life and my relationship with the world. That's pretty amazing.

Emy diGrappa (32:21):

It- It- It is amazing. And I would say, as we close, what would be the one piece of advice you would share with a young woman, a young girl as she's growing up and searching for her identity and her purpose in life? What- What would- What kind of advice would you give to her?

Alia Ali (32:42):

I think that there's something really important about being alone as a woman. And being careful and being aware, but also knowing how to be alone. And a really wonderful way to do that is to travel. Knowing that you can depend on yourself, knowing that you ... there's a moment in which you really confront yourself, um, and confront yourself in relationship to things that are very foreign, that are very different. And eventually to realize that those things also somehow become a part of you. So to enrich yourself.

                 Um, and for me, I- I would say really to be very careful, because a woman traveling alone is not the same thing as a man traveling alone. I mean, when I travel alone, I can't travel ... I don't travel at night. You know, and sometimes I can't travel by land. I have to take a plane. I mean, these are just things ... These are the reality. Um, but I would say definitely learn how to be alone with yourself, and how to never be bored. Ha- you know, how to be able to entertain yourself with the things, the places that you go, the things that you read. Your job does not define you, your suffering or your bad experiences.

                 You know, now we're in a time where there- there's been a lot of this Me Too Movement has been, um, quite significant and, um, you know, it's really incredible for all the brave women and some men who have came out to talk about it. This also though, many of them did not allow this to define them. Products of war, product of racism, of hatred, these things don't define you. So look at ... Find the things that do. Be comfortable in yourself and build relationships, but you know, things around you also can fall apart. Relationships, friendships, sometimes very sadly family, but as long as you know that you are feeding yourself with everything that you can to become a full productive citizen, then that- that's would be my advice.

Emy diGrappa (34:58):

I really like that.

Alia Ali (34:58):


Emy diGrappa (35:00):

Thanks, Alia. And thanks-

Alia Ali (35:00):

Thank you so much for having me.

Emy diGrappa (35:02):


Alia Ali (35:03):

It's such a privilege. Thank you.

Emy diGrappa (35:04):

Thank you for talking to me. (laughs) Thank you for listening. I'm Emy diGrappa. This Think Why podcast is brought to you by the Wyoming Humanities. We use the humanities as a lens to explore the human experience. You can find us online at