In 2014, we heard a conversation between Paul Braun, a sergeant in the Minnesota National Guard, and the interpreter he served with in Iraq, who goes by the name Philip — a moniker bestowed on him by American soldiers because he favored Philip Morris cigarettes.
In Iraq, former interpreters’ lives are in constant danger because of their association with American soldiers. So Braun helped sponsor Philip’s immigration to the U.S., and at the time of their interview, they were living together in Minneapolis.
But Philip had to leave his wife and four children behind in Iraq. He spent three years attempting to obtain visas for them so they could join him in Minnesota, even putting his life at risk by traveling back to Iraq in 2014.
Finally, in October 2016, the visas came through, and now Philip’s family — including his nephew, Andy, who was also an interpreter — are adjusting to life in the U.S. Two months after his family’s arrival, Philip came back to StoryCorps to give Andy some advice on adjusting to his new home.
You can learn more about Philip’s story in the 2015 documentary The Interpreter.
Originally broadcast February 3, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.