As soon as Ibrahim arrived in Utah he was ready to get to work and build a better future for himself. The only one in his family to be resettled by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City from Sudan, Ibrahim arrived as a young adult in August 2012 ready to find a job and support himself: "I got a job 62 days [after I arrived]. I didn’t speak much English, but I thought I could handle the job. The first [job I applied for] was at the airport. Immediately they hired me, and I was working.”
Ibrahim soon began navigating the challenges and experiences his new home presented. “I had never seen snow, and I would fall down, watch the snow, eat the snow. I come from the desert, and the snow surprised me. [One] time I missed the bus because of the snow. I walked all the way to the airport. It took almost two hours to get there. But I was happy, I just kept working. That time was a very difficult time, but I still handle[d] it.”
Two years after arriving in Utah, Ibrahim decided to further his education. He started by picking up English courses in earnest. “I knew how to speak Arabic, but English is really difficult. I just watched my teacher talking, I didn’t understand anything about it. I just kept going.” A year later, however, Ibrahim needed to leave school to work full-time in order to pay his bills.
In 2016, Ibrahim decided that he “needed to make [his] life better,” and re-enrolled in school. This time, he expanded his focus from ESL courses to include general education courses as he worked toward his goal of graduating from high school. In June 2019, Ibrahim proudly graduated from high school and received his diploma.
Grateful for the opportunities he has been given, Ibrahim gives back to his community as often as he can, helping interpret for citizenship interviews and running after-school programs for refugee youth. In fact, he would say that one of his greatest achievements was receiving an award recognizing his community service. “[When they gave me the certificate,] I was so proud. I really want to help the community.”
After offering his skills as an interpreter for a number of citizenship interviews, Ibrahim decided to apply for U.S. citizenship himself. He met all of the eligibility requirements, studied U.S. American history, English and civics to prepare himself for the exam. Last year, after much preparation and patience, Ibrahim became a U.S. citizen. “I was so proud. That time was so proud. I really love to be a citizen.”
Ibrahim is grateful for the opportunities he has been given—coming to the United States, getting his high school degree, employment and becoming a citizen. “I didn’t [use to] have any dreams, [but] now we’re talking about the future, we’re talking about the dream, we’re talking about business. It’s a door open already for us. Today I am so happy myself... I am so happy to be a citizen.”
Ibrahim plans to continue improving his English, travel back to Africa to visit his mother, and become an international businessman. Despite the challenges in his life, Ibrahim is well on his way to achieving his American Dream.
This holiday season, help other refugees and New Americans, like Ibrahim, achieve their American Dreams by donating to support the work of the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City. Make your charitable contribution today: Rescue.org/GiveSLC