Where are you from? 

Casablanca, Morocco

What was it like growing up? 

I come from a tight knit family and I have fond memories of my childhood in Morocco. The ocean, the amazing food, the family gatherings, playing outside. I try and visit once a year as my parents still live there.

What brought you to Cleveland? 

After completing High School in Morocco. I moved to Northeast Ohio to attend college.  A U.S degree is highly valued overseas and I could not have done it without the moral and financial support of my parents.

What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change? 

I was very excited to come to the U.S, learn English, make American friends, experience college/campus life in America. I come from the largest city in Morocco with the Atlantic ocean in its backyard. Growing up, my idea of America was from American movies and TV shows. So you can imagine my disappointment when I first arrived to the Akron-Cleveland area and it didn’t look anything like New York City or Chicago. It took some time to get used to the smaller pace and the brutal winters but I love the area now and I am proud to call it home.

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here? 

Being 18 years old in a foreign country away from my parents, friends and all that is familiar presented many challenges but it also gave me room to grow and mature as a person.

What is your occupation? 

I work in International Education at Kent State University.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed? 

Inviting me over for holidays, expressing interest in my culture and country, introducing me to Cleveland sports (tailgating was a foreign concept to me! I also didn’t understand the rules of American Football and Baseball)

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice? 

Not very many, unfortunately. It is challenging celebrating Moroccan holidays here when they are not always observed in the U.S. I also do not know very many Moroccans in the area.

What do you love about Cleveland? 

The people. The sports. The culinary scene. Fall foliage in the Metroparks.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees? 

Diversity and tolerance are an ethical and moral obligation . Welcoming people from around the world helps create mutual understanding and foster peace on a global scale.

Why is it important to travel abroad?

You learn a lot about other cultures through travel, but most importantly, you learn a lot about yourself. Travel changes you for the better and also challenges you to get out of your comfort zone. Your outlook on life changes and you learn to connect with others on a basic human level, transcending country of origin,