Many people come to this country in pursuit of what is known as the “American Dream.” This concept can take many forms: from freedom of expression and independence to financial success or the pursuit of knowledge.
In our digital extra this week, we hear from two immigrant business owners on Main Street in West Springfield about where they came from, where they are, and where they’re going as they pursue the American Dream.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Many people come to this country in pursuit of what is known as the American Dream, an idea that can take many forms: from freedom of expression and independence to financial success or the pursuit of knowledge.
In our digital extra this week, we hear from two business owners on Main Street in West Springfield about where they came from, where they are, and where they’re going as they pursue the American dream.
Nisrine Awkal, Taste of Lebanon: I moved here in 1997, so for me, coming from Beirut, I lived in a city most of my — like all my life. I was born and lived in a city. It was beautiful, but I lived all my life in a war. It was like a war zone. And then I came here in 1997 and I liked how quiet this country is.
Ali Alsaadi, Under the Edge Barber Shop: I’m originally from Iraq, Baghdad. I started as an apprentice with two of my uncles. They owned a barbershop and I worked with them from 15 to like 19, 20. Until I picked up the skills and then I moved somewhere else to another city and I start working as a barber.
I moved to the States 2010. And after that, I was just going being a worker, renting a booth for this certain amount of years ’til I want to open my own.
Nisrine Awkal: This is called shwarma. Shwarma is, you cut up meat and lamb, and you put them on a stack, and chicken on a different stack, and you just shave it. Let it, like, you marinate it and you make it and shave it and eat it.
This is a traditional, traditional dish. This is you see on all the streets, all restaurants. And we love it because we make it here, I make it here, myself. And you don’t find — around this area, you got people that make this kind of shawarma and we’re proud that people love it and give us like high fives.
Ali Alsaadi: It’s that the feeling because people buy into feelings more than just the haircut. You know, it’s just about the experience. We’re building up the shop.
It’s more to have clients to feel comfortable and feel like home. We’re almost like a therapist. It’s not just about the haircut. We talk about their day, talk about their problems and issues, what they have going on. If they have a vacation they planning on going.
Nisrine Awkal: It’s not Fifth Avenue. It’s not you know, it’s a very quiet street, though. Everyone know everyone. Like when you go to any of these little stores, everyone is greeting everyone. It’s a very family-like.
We didn’t meet each other back home, like Iraqi, Syrian, Egyptian, like we never met each other there, you know? When we came here, we met each other. We became a family. We became our own nation and a big nation.
Ali Alsaadi: I feel like this is one of the things like I’m happy and I’m proud. And what we accomplished so far, and with the team that I have in the shop, all of them it’s good guys, all of them got very good service, customer service and good haircuts. Definitely.
And and it’s definitely this is not the end of just this shop. You know, we were definitely thinking about expanding in the future.