Update 1/31/08: A refugee advocate from Arizona wrote a critical letter to the editor at Time. See her letter here.
Time magazine this week has a story about Iraqi refugees trying to adjust to America — the country where they thought every car was new and everyone was rich. Instead they find roach infested apartments and menial work. We reported on a similar article in the Washington Post a couple of months ago. Here is how the Time article begins:
There are moments when Faeza Jaber wants to pick up Khattab, her 7-year-old son, and flee back to Baghdad. Life in Phoenix is proving harder than she had expected. She needs a job that will pay her rent–not easy for a 48 year-old single mother with basic English and little local experience. Then there are a number of smaller challenges that, taken together, can seem insurmountable for a woman who has never previously lived away from her homeland–where to find day care for Khattab, how to decipher utility bills, what to do about her car that’s been towed away. Just the thought of more logistics is daunting. “My head is tired,” she says, her voice shaking. “All these papers. In America, a woman must be a man.” So sometimes she dreams of going back to Baghdad, where she knows the language and the streets and has friends and family–and where the men do the paperwork.
Read it, its just another in a long line of stories about refugees whose expectations of America have not been realized. Makes you wonder who is preparing them for the culture shock.