Hazrat  ·  Afghanistan

Always be proud that you are working

I am an engineer

Edited by Heather Oman
Interview by Sarah Jacobsen and Nicole Taylor
Hazrat

I am an engineer. In Afghanistan, I worked for the U.S. Army.

I got my bachelor’s degree in construction engineering from Kabul Polytechnic University in 2007. I studied for this degree for five years. When I graduated, I went to work for an energy company. A year later, the company was contracted by the US army for a rehabilitation project in Kabul. The project manager saw that I was doing a good job, so he offered me a job in the US Army. The job offered a better opportunity than my local job, so I took it. The army moved me down to Helmand, a very insecure province, with many problems with the Taliban.

My parents lived in Kunar province where most of the insurgents were operating. When I went to visit my parents the local people would tell the Taliban, “This man is working for the US Army.” My father and I would both get warnings that the Taliban was looking for me. Once, I was carrying architectural plans for the US Army on a flash drive, and the Taliban tried to arrest me. Luckily, I escaped, because that would have been very bad if the Taliban had seen sensitive US Army plans. The Taliban was always making trouble for me. I could not travel between Kabul and Kunar.

I did not feel my life was safe.

So my project manager with USAID helped me secure a SIV (Special Immigrant Visa) and my wife and 4 children and I came to the United States. We settled in Seattle.

At first, we were not happy here, because we had lost our home. My wife and children were very sad. But we see on the news how bad things are in my country, how much fighting there is with the Taliban, and we are happy that we are safe.

The biggest problem I have here is finding work in my career. I have 10 years of experience with construction engineering, but I can’t get a job with a construction company. It is difficult to get my credentials from Afghanistan to transfer to the US, and I don’t have any contacts who can vouch for my experience. And it is difficult to find the kind of job I want when I am still learning English. Everybody tells me, you need English! So I am trying to get my English stronger.

In the meantime, I am working at the airport. I work long shifts. But I feel that in America, people don’t care where you work. You don’t have to be embarrassed about your job. You can always be proud that you are working, supporting your family. In my country, I was an engineer and a manager. Now I am a laborer. But I am safer and happier here. And I am hopeful that if I keep working and improve my English skills and connect with the right people, I will still have a future in America as an engineer.

Update December 2021:

Hazrat has been taking English classes & is now enrolled in engineering classes to re-certify in his field. Hazrat has a new job as a security guard that fits with his school schedule. His wife Sima has also been taking online English classes and got her driver's permit. All 4 of his children are enrolled in school and are thriving.

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