“As a Syrian-American who “survived growing up in the cross-fire of two of the most diametrically opposed cultures, the East and the West,” Khalil is no doubt an expert on the subject of assimilation. And though dealing with a potentially serious subject (especially considering the current xenophobic climate of our country), Khalil instead chooses a tongue-in-cheek approach, presenting her ideas as a self-help book—but one that relies heavily on humor to educate and help.”
– The Pittsburgh Magazine, June 2010
Dalel Khalil is a Syrian-American who survived, what she calls, THE REAL WAR ON TERROR – living in the cross-fire of the conservative Arab and liberal American cultures. With one foot in Syria, and the other in Pittsburgh, Dalel can twirl both the mesbaha (Arabic dancing beads) and the Terrible Towel, with equal ease. And she wears her battle scars, proudly.
Having been raised precisely in the middle of veil and thong, Dalel has the rare ability to not only understand both worlds, but also to address sensitive issues in a creative, palatable way.
Best of all, her fun, engaging and charismatic personality enables her to translate those differences in a Colbert-like way! She lectures nationally at venues such as Wellesley, and presented at the same ADC conference where former President Bill Clinton spoke.
The girl loves life! She has traveled to 22 countries, flew a plane at 15, celebrated Oktoberfest in Palestine, and swam with a shark in Mexico. She even got detained by 3 separate Middle Eastern governments – and that’s just the short list.
In 2010, she embarked on a 21 day, 7 country, Monastery/Beer crawl…but you’ll have to wait and read about that adventure when she gets around to writing another book about it.
In the meantime, you can read her 2nd book, Sito’s 15 Minute Mediterranean Meals Cookbook, which may very well get into the Guinness World Book of Records as the very first cookbook co-authored by someone who can’t fry an egg. Incidentally, she is also working on a cooking show. Her sister, Leila, on the other hand, is a fabulous chef, and is the owner of Sito’s Mediterranean Salad Dressing.
In 2008, Dalel spent time in Damascus, Syria where she volunteered with Iraqi refugees, did PR work with the Middle East Fellowship and helped provide humanitarian relief for millions of displaced Iraqis with IOCC and The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East. Meeting with UNHCR officials and other NGOs, like MercyCorps, she got to see firsthand what Iraqi refugees were facing on a day to day basis.
She also got yelled at by rude taxi drivers who begged her to speak English because they didn’t quite understand her “ghetto-fabulous” Syrian accent.
First, as an on air guest for the amazing award winning WDVE Morning Show, with Scott Paulsen and Jim Krenn, where she was doing fun character voices. Afterwards, it was on to co-host The Breakfast Jam Morning Show with Sly Jock and Sean Richards on WAMO 106 – prank calls were her specialty. And then to KDKA-AM 1020, the world’s first commercial radio station, to sharpen her journalistic skills as a reporter and anchor.
She wrote features for The New Pittsburgh Courier, did special reports for AURN, and was a columnist for two Arab-American magazines.
She is the co-chair for the Syria Cultural and Educational Exhibit with the Pittsburgh International Folk Festival founded by her father, Mikhail Khalil and his beloved wife, Agnes Khalil (2011 was the first time Syria has ever been represented in its history). She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Friends of St. Patrick.
Dalel is extremely passionate about the plight of Syria, all Syrian people, and especially Syrian Christians (See Syria tab). On the brink of military action, in September 2013, Dalel wrote her 2nd Op-Ed in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, appeared in several newscasts, and spent 7 hours on the radio (4.5 straight on KDKA-AM) staunchly opposing military action in Syria. Her first Op-Ed appeared in 2012.
Dalel learned from her parents, Agnes and Mikhail, that people are people, and, no matter what our differences, that we are all the same in God’s eyes.
In 1973, on the eve of the Yom Kippur war, when Middle East tensions were extremely high, her family’s restaurant (Khalil’s) was completely packed with customers waiting to be seated. So, her mother, Aggie, in natural form, sat a party of Jewish diners down to eat dinner with a party of Arabic diners—on the same table. Most restaurant owners would do everything in their power to keep the 2 parties separated to avoid any potential confrontation. Not Aggie. Not her. She was a peacemaker.
And most certainly, she did it with a twinkle in her eye.
MY AMAZING PARENTS
I just don’t even know where to start. Perhaps I won’t. Maybe, someday, I’ll write a book about them. They’re that incredible. In the meantime, you can check out this story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about them and the Syrian immigrant story.