LIVING AS A REFUGEE IN AMERICA: AN INTERVIEW WITH IMAM ZIA (4/6)

“I think loneliness takes a huge toll on individuals that come as immigrants or as refugees. It doesn’t matter if they come by themselves or with their family, across the board loneliness is one common denominator. They feel extremely lonely and it’s very hard for them to adjust to things. It’s not the physical hardships like how to get a job, where to live, or where to go to school etc. because at the end of the day there’s a way to find your way around those things. In America, everyone who wants to get an education or who wants to work ultimately finds a way to do so. Before I moved to the United States, I had already learned English in Peshawar. I was also able to read enough about America through the Internet even though it wasn’t that big in the 90’s especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although I knew zero slang. Slang was like a new language that I still try to learn from the younger generation in the community. My point is even though I knew English it didn’t do anything for me. In terms of the loneliness, it doesn’t matter if you know the language because the language is not about what you speak it’s about your heart being content. So my tongue knew the language but my heart didn’t know the language. For the first year every day, I kept saying to myself that next week I’m going to go back. It’s a healing process because you’re separated from your motherland and that takes a huge toll on you because no matter how great America is you will always miss your motherland.”

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