Interview for

Huda and Mays Faris

12/17/2020

Interviewed By:

Alice McGuinness

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 45:14
Summary

Raised between the UAE, Syria, and Jordan, Huda and Mays are sisters who moved to the United States together during the time of the Trump administration. They discuss the difficulties they had in the immigration process, balancing high school and community college in the U.S. while also finding employment, and new challenges they face when practicing Islam in the States.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrators: Huda and Mays Faris

Date: 12/17/20

Location: Zoom, Huda and Mays located in West Haven, CT


Summary: Raised between the UAE, Syria, and Jordan, Huda and Mays are sisters who moved to the United States together during the time of the Trump administration. They discuss the difficulties they had in the immigration process, balancing high school and community college in the U.S. while also finding employment, and new challenges they face when practicing Islam in the States.

Topics: Childhood, cultural adjustment, journey, education, language, employment, pandemic, religious practice, religion, family


Outline

Section 1: (00:00-00:10:13)

  • Childhood, cultural adjustment, journey: Huda and Mays grew up between the UAE, Syria, and Jordan. It did not feel hugely different moving between these countries because of their shared cultures, languages, and religions.

  • Journey: Because of Trump administration policy, Huda and Mays’ entry to the US was significantly delayed, and they were informed of their plane tickets the day they left. This left very little time to say goodbye to the community they built in Jordan.

  • Journey: The suddenness of their journey meant there was no house set up for them, as they had expected. They lived in a volunteer’s extra house for a few months in Bridgeport, CT before moving to West Haven, where they have been for the past few months.

Section 2: (00:10:13-00:19:24)

  • Education, cultural adjustment: Huda began high school in the United States, which was a challenging adjustment because of the language and environmental differences.

  • Language, cultural adjustment: Mays struggled with English, especially in her job at Starbucks. However, in the years since they arrived in the US, they feel much better about their language skills, their relationships, and their jobs and education.

  • Education: Both sisters attend community college, where they finished an ELL program and are now working on their individual majors, radiation therapy and dental hygiene. For Mays, it was very important to continue her education in the US, which she was unable to do in Jordan as a Syrian.

  • Journey, education, employment: In Jordan, Mays attended Amman University and Huda went to high school. Now, Mays works two jobs on top of going to school.

Section 3: (00:19:24-00:29:49)

  • Pandemic, employment, education: It is challenging to find balance between work and school, especially because of the pandemic. It is also difficult to be potentially exposed to Covid-19 while working.

  • Pandemic, education: Online course work is much more difficult and requires more understanding without the professor’s help.

  • Religious practice, cultural adjustment: It felt much more difficult to practice Islam in the United States, especially not being able to pray during work or have holidays off. Huda described her first memory of fasting, and how fasting is much harder while working or going to school in the US.

  • Religion: Huda has shared a lot with her community in the United States about her religious practice, especially about Ramadan.

Section 4: (00:29:49–00:45:12)

  • Religious practice: Since coming to the US, Huda and Mays feel like their religious practice has been most greatly impacted by their busy work and school schedules, especially holidays not necessarily being vacation days.

  • Politics: It was shocking and meaningful to see President Biden win the 2020 election after the difficulties they faced on their journey.

  • Cultural adjustment: The sisters have met people from many different backgrounds and also fellow Syrians, both of which make them feel happy and supported.

  • Family, employment, education: For both Huda and Mays, “home” is tied to family, and also to meaningful opportunities in employment and education.