Years to citizenship
Arrived in the US
Where did you grow up?
Tell me a little about your business. How did you get started?
A lady told me there’s a place coming available in the area near Eastland mall. I saw a restaurant where they were selling Caribbean food. I didn’t like the space. It was small. I said: “I don’t know what you want, but I’ll take it if there’s no down payment.” They told me that I need to pay for a few things from the owner. I put “Halal” on the sign outside and started by selling only kebab. Customers began asking for more.
I work 7 days a week. I work 12 hours every day. I have taken only 10-15 days off over the last 10 years. This is a family business. It’s not easy. I left Jerusalem on this day 10 years ago on August 13th, 2008. It was the first day for me in Charlotte.
What do you remember about your journey to the United States?
I moved here in 1982 and went to high school in Tennessee. I came on a student visa. My brother was able to sponsor me and my path to citizenship was about two years. When I brought my family here in 2008, I felt happy. I felt safe. I was with my seven daughters, my son, and wife.
What did you give up?
I left everything.
What did you gain?
What message would you share with a newly arriving immigrant?
You need to respect yourself in order for other people to respect you.