Where are you from?

I am from Egypt

What was your childhood like?

It was very beautiful for me everything was nice for me.  I had a good job over there before I came here. I was playing for my Olympic team over there before I came here. I played Judo (wrestling).

What brought you to Cleveland?

It is very quite, I like it. I was in New York and it was very expensive. One bedroom is $950. I came here to visit one month and I liked it. I was looking to the future, when I bring my wife or get married and have kids. Here is very nice I like it.

What were your first thought about coming to the United States? Did those change?

First time I came to the United States was on December, 27 2001.  When I put my feet in New York I wanted to go back to my country. I was scared because I didn’t know anything around me. I always thought if I wanted to go somewhere how would I get around.  It was a new land for me. I visited a lot of countries with my Olympic team. But the first time for me in New York was scary.

What challenges did you face as transitioning here?

When I came to the United States everything was different. I didn’t have a job like I did in Egypt. I worked in the kitchen and warehouse in New York I carried boxes because I needed the money. I didn’t like asking my family for money because everybody in Egypt didn’t want me to come to the United States. Before I came here I didn’t need the money. My life was good; my family was good I had my car, my house and everything before I came here.  It was my dream to come to the United States, when I came here I found everything different it was hard to start a new life here. It changed everything; everyday I was fighting myself to stay here. I wanted to go back but I was shy to go back because everybody will talk about me and say I am a loser. It was like a war between me and myself. Now I am happy here I have my kids and wife from Egypt everything is nice for me.

What is your occupation?

I work two jobs. In the morning I work at the gas station and at night I work at a store.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcome?

Its okay, it is not bad you know. Some people are okay, some people say  “go back to your country” and a lot of people say that to me if they are angry with me.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Sports. I still play Judo I go once a week. I started doing that because I want to teach my son.

What do you love about Cleveland?

It is quite.

Why is it important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

It is a good thing because the people can help with jobs. With more people working and having jobs the country would be better and have a good life for all.

Why is it important to travel aboard?

Know other people and know other cultures. I like to know people I love people it doesn’t matter the nationality or religion.