With a four-foot, two-pronged, gold sword in her suitcase, Zahra Ahmad walks toward security at Erbil International Airport in Erbil, Iraqi-Kurdistan on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. Ahmad received the sword when she visited her family for the first time in Baghdad. The sword is called Zulfiqar or Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib's sword. The sword made it through the airports of Baghdad, Erbil, Turkey, Amsterdam, Iceland and Detroit. Image by Brontë Wittpenn. Iraq, 2019.
With a four-foot, two-pronged, gold sword in her suitcase, Zahra Ahmad walks toward security at Erbil International Airport in Erbil, Iraqi-Kurdistan on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. Ahmad received the sword when she visited her family for the first time in Baghdad. The sword is called Zulfiqar or Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib's sword. The sword made it through the airports of Baghdad, Erbil, Turkey, Amsterdam, Iceland and Detroit. Image by Brontë Wittpenn. Iraq, 2019.

In February 2019, Zahra traveled back to her homeland, Iraq, to reunite with her father's family after a 20-year separation. In Baghdad, Zahra rediscovered herself being immersed in an environment radiating in Middle Eastern culture. Walking Iraq's streets humanized the people she'd grown up watching on TV and dismantled stereotypes reiterated throughout her upbringing. Zahra's story of an Iraqi-Irani woman's experience of immigration highlights the importance of cultural re-exposure. As an immigrant, Zahra aims to shed light on reestablishing a connection to one's heritage and encourages overcoming fears of alienation. Our ancestral lineage, values and struggles shape us. We need to tell our stories.

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