Some of the first questions I ever get asked: What’s your name again? Can you say that slower? How do you spell that?  Then, the follow up question usually is: Where are you from?  I don’t mind these questions at all…in fact, I anticipate them. I’ve been asked these questions ever since I came to the United States as a little girl from Syria.  I do have fun with the answers sometimes, just to throw a few curve balls, but now I think I’ll address the basics.  There is a lot to share about my journey not only to opening Hera Hub Phoenix but also my overall journey in life as a Syrian American Muslim Immigrant.

First things first, my name Shatha is Arabic, it means the smell of a rose. In Syrian dialect, the th sound usually turns to a z, hence why my name is pronounced Sheza by my family and friends, and why it throws everyone off.  Yes, it is a bit difficult to explain to others and have lived my life explaining.  Growing up I’ve been called Sha-tha, Shazam, and even She-ra as my brother was He-man (his name is Humam). I’ve accepted them all with an edge of laughter.  After all, who wouldn’t want to be “The Princess of Power”?  Gradually throughout life, whenever a roll hesitates at the sound Sh…. I automatically raise my hand and say “yes, that’s me”.  My last name Barbour is also Syrian, although we can trace our lineage immediately back to Turkey and then it gets lost beyond. Our family has been invited to family reunions in Ireland; I’ve been asked if I’m French; and we’ve traced our lineage to Spain and other countries. So, I guess that makes me an international mutt.

I’ll be sharing these stories and other stories around the hub regularly….I think we’ll call it “Blue Velvet”, stories we share with a cup of coffee around the blue velvet couch.


-From the blue velvet couch

Shatha Barbour