Refugee shares early impressions of US

first_imgWhen Salih Al Fahham says everything is different in the United States, he means everything.“Life is different. Water is different. The food is different. The trees are different. How you sit, how you walk. Everything is different,” said the Iraqi refugee during a Thursday discussion of refugee resettlement with local social service providers and the public.The host was Lutheran Community Services Northwest, the primary agency working with the government to resettle international refugees in the United States. The discussion, which drew about 25 people, was held at LCSNW’s offices on Main Street in Vancouver.“I love Vancouver,” said Salih, who arrived in the United States with his wife and two children, ages 10 and 5, on Aug. 3. Salih spent the last several years working as a language translator and then a cultural adviser for American troops in Iraq; before that, he said, he was a diesel auto mechanic for 17 years. His English is excellent, so LCSNW asked Salih to describe the feelings and experiences of a new refugee learning about life in the United States.“To start a new chapter of life at my age is not easy,” said the 53 year old, “but it is exciting, too. When we arrived, the first moment when my feet hit American soil, I can’t even describe. America was my dream the whole time. It’s just like a dream come true. It’s late, but I am here. Thank you America and thank you Vancouver,” he said.The stereotype of America that he grew up with is a drunken, crime-ridden nation where people are always shooting each other, he said. But it was Iraq that he fled with his family because of “serious threats,” he said.last_img read more