Asma Hashimi: Journey To America
by Ryan Zimmerman
I’d like you to introduce you to Asma Hashimi, a senior at Tucker. Her journey to Georgia, and America itself, was long and complicated.
When Asma’s family decided they wanted a better life for themselves and her, they left Afghanistan. Since travel to Turkey, their destination, was illegal from Afghanistan, the whole family had to make the dangerous journey on foot. They traveled for months, crossing the Zagros Mountains on the way. At the time, Asma was very young, too young to remember the journey firsthand. Though her family planned to go directly to America from Turkey, a miscommunication lead to a 10 year long wait in Turkey. When their intent of immigration was finally made clear to the government, they traveled to Istanbul to be interviewed for passage to America. The process was harrowing; Asma’s family went back and forth from Turkey to Istsanbul and back again 4 times. Before they could immigrate, they had to learn America’s 10 amendments and had to attend 3-4 days of classes to prepare for their citizenship.
Eventually, after they had met the countless immigration requirements, they made a final trip to Istanbul to get their plane tickets, which brought them to a connector flight in New York. From there, they caught another flight to join Asma’s Aunt in Georgia.
In America, Asma’s life changed, although the differences between Turkey and America were not as pronounced as she had expected. America’s message had always been that it was safer, more equal, and the best place to live in the world, but Asma found that America had many of the same problems she experienced in Turkey, and her parents experienced in Afghanistan. When it came to gun control, the situation was even worse. The family also found it much more difficult to get around without a car. America did, however, have more religious freedom then Turkey.
Interestingly, Asma experienced a large difference in school systems. Assignments are weighted more heavily in America compared to Turkey- there, your grade was determined by performance on tests alone. Asma started American education in an international school, where she got more comfortable with english. Now, she’s at Tucker, and (I hope) really enjoying her time here!
If there’s one thing she wants other immigrant and first generation students to know, it’s to not be afraid to practice English in public. She was nervous about her English not sounding complete when she spoke, but she found that other people aren’t concerned with minor mistakes. Her friends have been nothing but encouraging, and regular practice helped her improve quickly!
I would like to thank Ms. Thomas for coming up with the premise of this article, and for all she does for Tucker High’s international culture. Out of 18 years of teaching so far, Ms. Thomas has spent 3 at tucker teaching both ESOL students and the general population. She discovered her love for teaching and travel in the Czech Republic, and can speak both Spanish and English. There are 6 full-time ESOL teachers at Tucker high, and 203 ESOL students that represent places from all around the world. Ms. Thomas also runs the International Club, which represents around 40 countries, including Africa, the Middle East, South and Central America, Asia, and Vietnam.