The Journey from Iraq to Rogers Park–My Family’s Story


By: Hajir Hasan, Sullivan Freshman

After a long 18 hours across the Atlantic ocean, my family and I got to the U.S. safely. Emigrating to America has been a blessing. Though there were challenges like language, cultural differences, and homesickness, we manage to strive for a better future with many milestones and achievements.

Iraq’s condition was perilous, thus, we emigrated in 2013. We moved to the U.S. because it wasn’t safe for us to stay in Iraq. My dad also wanted us to have a better future. We were a family of five but now a family of six.

America was different to us so at first; it felt like a new world. During our arrival, some American families supported and helped us out. We faced many obstacles but we persevered and that’s where we are now. Over the course of eight years, my siblings and I attended school, learned English, and made new friends. Chicago made us feel welcomed, and I love how diverse and accepting it is. 

My father now works at a mall and my older sister is attending college to pursue a career in Social Media and Digital Strategies. My mother takes care of us at home as well as my little brother since he can’t attend school yet. My younger sister and I are both in school. We’re also in contact with the families who assisted us; we’re very grateful for them. 

We went to many fun places here in Chicago. We visited the Bean downtown, the fountain, Lincoln Park Zoo, along with more parks around Rogers Park. 

I asked my family about the struggles, the difference between Iraq and America, and I asked how Chicago impacted them. After asking about the challenges in America, the thing we most struggled with as a family was learning and understanding English. We did get some people to help us translate until we learned. My parents also added that school, finding a job, and adjusting to the new laws were hard as well. 

My father Dhahir Obaidi said, “The connection with people is different because here in America everyone is independent but in Iraq people are like cousins. During Ramadan, people in Iraq woke each other up so that they can eat and pray, but here in America since there’s so many religions practiced, it doesn’t happen.”

Chicago has had a huge affect on our lives. My family and I are happier and more secure. Ever since we came here, our lifestyle has changed. We did feel welcomed in Rogers Park because everybody has different backgrounds so we did not feel left out. It was also nice to meet people from the same country as us and also learn about other cultures.

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