I am an Amer­i­can

We are One Na­tion

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - MIKE KILEN

Each week, this se­ries will in­tro­duce you to an ex­cep­tional Amer­i­can who unites, rather than di­vides, our com­mu­ni­ties. In this in­stall­ment, read about Sarvin­der Naber­haus, a writer who hopes her book in­spired by a dream about the Amer­i­can flag will unite peo­ple.

Each week, this se­ries will in­tro­duce you to an ex­cep­tional Amer­i­can who unites, rather than di­vides, our com­mu­ni­ties. To read more about the Amer­i­can pro­filed here and more av­er­age Amer­i­cans do­ing ex­cep­tional things, visit one­na­tion.us­ato­day.com.

AMES, Iowa - It’s as if ev­ery­thing in her life led to this mo­ment, said Sarvin­der Naber­haus.

The Ames woman awoke with the words “blue sky and white stars” drift­ing be­tween dream and wak­ing. The im­age of the flag and im­mi­grants at El­lis Is­land came to her. She be­gan writ­ing a book, “Blue Sky White Stars,” that she hoped would make chil­dren feel the free­dom and unity that she found in Amer­ica.

“It was put in mo­tion even be­fore I was born. This dream and this mo­men­tum ... from my great-grand­fa­ther who was aware that Amer­ica was the light of the world,” Naber­haus said.

Her great-grand­fa­ther boarded a ship in In­dia in the 1920s to travel to Amer­ica but had sec­ond thoughts and got off. Her fa­ther, Harpal Bal, had the same dream, but his pocket was picked in Cal­cutta. A pri­est loaned him money to go to school. His ed­u­ca­tion even­tu­ally al­lowed him to come to Amer­ica in 1965, con­tinue his vet­eri­nary

ed­u­ca­tion and be­come an Iowa State Univer­sity pro­fes­sor.

Naber­haus, 56, ar­rived with her fam­ily at age 4. She was the only face of color in her school class. Three times she was tar­geted with racist re­marks.

But a woman later gave her a book, “Ch­ester the Little Pony.” Af­ter that she spent her days sit­ting high on a tree branch read­ing books.

She went to col­lege and be­came a teacher.

But it wasn’t un­til she had be­come an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen in 1996 and had chil­dren of her own, the last of three in 1999, that she de­cided to write her own books for chil­dren.

The dream fol­lowed, spark­ing an im­age of the flag, its colors a metaphor for the color of the Amer­i­can land­scape and the mul­ti­cul­tural faces of Amer­i­cans.

“We are wo­ven to­gether with dif­fer­ent colors and threads. The per­fect metaphor for peo­ple lit­er­ally wo­ven to­gether,” said Naber­haus, who was paired with il­lus­tra­tor Kadir Nel­son to pro­duce the Pen­guin book, re­leased in June.

The book’s fi­nal page is an il­lus­tra­tion of the flag on the moon.

“That’s how high free­dom can take you,” she said. “It can take you to the moon.”


Sarvin­der Naber­haus of Ames, Iowa, said she hopes her chil­dren’s book, “Blue Sky White Stars,” will bring peo­ple to­gether.

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