Cultural Orientation

Where are you from? (City, country)

Baghdad, Iraq

Where are you being resettled to?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

How long ago did you apply for resettlement?

I first applied for resettlement in Syria through UNHCR, in 2006. But circumstances forced me to leave just before my departure date in 2009; my brother-in-law was kidnapped so I had to come to Amman and look after my sister. I had to re-start the process from Amman in 2011.

How did you hear about IOM?

I heard about resettlement with UNHCR and IOM through friends who have already been resettled. I have a lot of friends who have been in the States a long time now, some have already become naturalized, and have come back here on holiday.

Are you traveling with any members of your family/being resettled near any family or friends?

Yes I’m traveling with my family.

How has the Cultural Orientation course influenced your expectations about life in your country of destination?

I already had a lot of information about life in the USA from my friends, but the course helped with additional detail. I learned that if you work hard you can succeed in the USA, and that in America people have equal rights and there is no such thing as a second-class citizen. Our teacher is excellent, and so knowledgeable about the States.

What is your biggest fear or worry about the new life that awaits you?

I’m worried I won’t find work, or that I’ll be forced to do a job I hate. I love sports, so ideally I’d like to find something related to that.

What are you most excited about?

Starting a new life, living in safety and stability, having a fixed home with my own keys and furniture, a safe place where no one can tell me to leave or what to do.

Where are you from? (City, country)

Thiqar, Iraq

Where are you being resettled to?

Seattle, Washington, USA

How long ago did you apply for resettlement?

In 2003 with UNHCR, then my file was transferred to IOM in 2008.

How did you hear about IOM?

In Iraq in 2003 there was no freedom of the press so people were only vaguely aware of the UN, I didn’t learn about resettlement until I came to Amman, by word of mouth.

Are you traveling with any members of your family/being resettled near any family or friends?

Yes I’m traveling with my wife and four children. My mother and brother also applied for resettlement with UNHCR, but they are still waiting to be approved.

How has the Cultural Orientation course influenced your expectations about life in your country of destination?

Our teacher is great; I’ve learned a lot of useful information, such as the fact that you need to find work and support yourself in the U.S., you can’t just rely on handouts, because people don’t receive enough to support their families on just that.

What other sources of information have helped give you an idea of what to expect? (ie, friends’ stories, online forums, TV…)

Everything, friends, TV, the internet.

What is your biggest fear or worry about the new life that awaits you?

I’m not worried about anything because I know what my goals are, and I’m sure I will achieve them.

What are you most excited about?

The education and future that this opportunity will give my children.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Resettlement agencies need to communicate better to refugees about why some cases take many years to be approved, while some families travel as little as nine months after applying. I realize that these decisions are not up to IOM and UNHCR, but not everyone understands this and people are often worried that delays mean they are somehow guilty of something.

Where are you from? (City, country)

Baghdad, Iraq.

Where are you being resettled to?

Utah, USA, but I’m not sure which city.

How long ago did you apply for resettlement?

My family applied in 2012.

How did you hear about IOM?

We heard about it through word of mouth.

Are you traveling with any members of your family/being resettled near any family or friends?

Yes, with my mother and sister.

How has the Cultural Orientation course influenced your expectations about life in your country of destination?

I already knew to expect culture shock and that everything will be very different and strange, because I’m going to a different country and it’s so far away, so I would say the course confirmed these assumptions rather than teaching me anything completely new.

What other sources of information have helped give you an idea of what to expect? (ie, friends’ stories, online forums, TV…)

My sister is already in Utah, and we have friends there as well, so they have told me a lot about what to expect.

What is your biggest fear or worry about the new life that awaits you?

Until you experience something first hand, everything is scary, so I’m nervous about a lot of things!

What are you most excited about?

I can’t wait to learn English. I used to speak really good English, German, and Turkish, but I had an accident and lost my memory. I know it will come back with practice, so I am really looking forward to immersing myself in the language and enrolling in language courses.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I’m looking forward to a new beginning, to having a stable life, to working, getting an education, even if I have to start with nothing!