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Running head: EDU 280 Artifact #2: Diversity Assignment

EDU 280 Artifact #2: Diversity Assignment


7/22/16
Professor Connie Christensen
Ryan Moore
College of Southern Nevada

EDU 280 Artifact #2

EDU 280 Artifact #2: Diversity Assignment Immigrant Interview


Ghassan, or Gus, is my boss at Madhouse Coffee. Gus has one of the most interesting
cultures out of anyone I know. He was born a refugee from Palestine, while his parents settled
into their new life in Saudi Arabia. He grew up speaking Arabic, which is spoken by 130
million people and is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world (112). At the time of
Gus birth he held an Egyptian Travel Document for Palestinian Refugees. Gus is a devoted
Muslim, and the connection he shares with a higher power is something that I not only admire,
but also see as one of the purest forms of love. Although Gus is a Muslim, it is important to
realize that One cannot assume that all Arab Americans are Muslim or that all Muslims are
Arab (111). This common stereotype makes living in the United States often times
uncomfortable for people of either or both of these cultures.
During my time working for Gus, we have often times sat and talked about his culture,
and what it means to him to be a Muslim. Gus loves his God and his family with all of his heart.
If the Quran is the soul of Islam, then the family can be described as the body (109). Every
night I work with Gus he will go to the back, set down his rug and pray. His devotion towards the
Muslim religion deserves the upmost respect. Last month while Gus was visiting his brother
back in Saudi Arabia, he participated in Ramadan, which is a month long fast that Muslims take
as a form of self-discipline. Gus said the experience of participating in Ramadan in Saudi Arabia
was a very personal and delightful time.
Gus left Saudi Arabia in 1991 in search of a better education. His sister, who was already
a citizen of the United States, helped take care of a lot of the green card and Visa process for Gus
and his family. After Gus arrived in the U.S. and obtained his citizenship he eagerly attended the
University of Arizona, ready to achieve a degree from an American institution of higher learning.

EDU 280 Artifact #2

Gus had already begun to learn English, and wasnt fully adapted to the language by the time he
started college. A few years later Gus had graduated from the University of Arizona with a
technology degree.
Another reason Gus looked to the United States for a promising life full of opportunity
was to escape the heating tensions in the Middle East. As I previously stated, Gus is Muslim, and
stressed to me the importance between the peaceful Islam he and true Muslims follow, and the
tainted radical Islam that is seen on the news. Arabs as well as Muslims in the United States
receive a great deal of prejudices and stereotyping. The popular images of Arabs as rich sheiks,
religious zealots, and terrorists are gross stereotypes (105). Arab American children see more
bullying in schools due to a biased curriculum and literature combined with perceptions of
them and their families that range from the overly romanticized to the harmfully negative
(114).
When I asked Gus about the process of gaining citizenship he stated that it was very
smooth for him. This is a good thing because for many people who move to the United States
from another country, they have a much harder time obtaining a green card or a Visa. Gus, who
still visits his family in Saudi Arabia, says that when he goes there now, he does not feel at home.
He says that he feels more at home in the United States, where his family and business are.
I asked Gus what his expectations were when he first arrived into his new life as a United
States citizen. He answered with the most selfless answer one can give, and said he was doing it
all for his kids, who wouldnt be born for a few more years to come. The book states, Most
important, Arab Americans invest in their children through education, which is seen as a asset
and religious duty necessary for the survival of both individuals and groups (109). Gus wanted
his children to have the opportunity of attending American schools from the get-go. He is very

EDU 280 Artifact #2

fond of the American school system, and wanted what was best for his kids even if it was a
harder life for himself in the states. When I asked what was the most difficult part of living in the
United States, he said its making enough money to live comfortably. Although in the end it lives
up to his expectations, Gus journey has been long and trying.
It was of the upmost importance for Gus to land on his feet upon entering a country
where immigrants with lower income and education levels face the problems of poverty,
prejudice, neighborhood tensions, and cultural adjustment similar to those of other non-European
immigrants (109). Although prejudices exist, Gus says the United States is a peaceful place. In
regards to the financial hardships of his early days as an American, Gus reflected back on how
there was no golden spoon that was feeding him opportunity. The hardest thing for Gus was
living affordably, which is quite hard for a recent immigrant as the book states. After Gus
received his college degree, he worked around in the tech field for a while before realizing he
wanted to own a business.
Gus culture is just as much a part of who he is as much as ones head is their own. His
life revolves around his family, his God, and his work. Gus owns a small coffee shop in
Henderson, Nevada that he runs with his brother. To come to the United States with little, and
end up owning a business is very humbling. He is not only a hard worker, but also an intelligent
and strong boss. He will often times sell Baklava and grape leaves, both of which are homemade
by his family. Cooking and eating is a big part of Gus culture. He eats lunch and dinner with his
family every night, and prefers to eat home-cooked meals instead of going out to eat. I have met
more of Gus family members than my own. They are all some of the kindest people I have ever
met, and some are even considered friends. Gus relationship with his extended family assures

EDU 280 Artifact #2


the claim the Arab Americans value the family and take pride in extended family members
(109).
Gus is a great inspiration, friend, boss and overall human being. His story of moving to
the United States is a great example of how one person did what they thought was best for
themselves, and their future family. Although the road was tough, Gus stuck with his heart and
followed through, which turned his vision of a life in America into a reality.