First Lady Michelle Obama Honors The Telling Room

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in


WASHINGTON – Ibrahim Shkara, 19, of Portland, Maine received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award from First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of The Telling Room. 

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“Accepting this award from the First Lady on behalf of The Telling Room is an experience that I'll never forget,” Shkara said. “It shows me that people recognize and value the power of programs that can change the lives of children.” 

When he was eight years old, Shkara and his family fled a war-ravaged Baghdad and moved to Cairo.  He was uprooted again in 2012 when his family moved to Portland, Maine. There, he joined the nonprofit writing center, The Telling Room.

Since its founding in 2004, The Telling Room has engaged more than 12,000 youths in various programs, including their creative youth development program, Young Writers & Leaders, which has served teens from around the world, including Africa, Asia, Central America and Russia.