Meet the Neighbors

Meet Hazim Oumera, the Network Engineer

Hazim Oumera, Network Engineer

Hazim Oumera, Network Engineer

 

Name: Hazim Oumera

Occupation: Network Engineer

Education: BS in Computer Engineering;  MS in Telecommunications

Country of Origin: Syria/Morocco

Neighborhood: Ballston

City/State: Arlington, VA

Number of years in the U.S.: 21 years

I am born in Morocco to Syrian parents. I followed suit on my brothers education path by coming to the United States at the age of 18 years old. After completing my studies, I started my career in Telecommunications. Although, I was an immigrant, I never felt the brunt of my immigration status because of the very diverse Washington DC community. I felt completely integrated into the American culture and habits.

However, one day, this perception crumbled when I understood the reality of the image I was projecting. I had just finished visiting my neighbor after offering him a Christmas card with a pair of free movie tickets as part of a season’s greeting. On the occasion, we exchanged again our phone numbers with a promise to set up a get together soon. As I walked back to my place, I received a strange text message from my neighbor which I soon understood to be mis-routed to me instead of his girlfriend. While my neighbor was praising me for the gift I had dropped off, I was very surprised he referred to me as “my middle-eastern neighbor”. He quickly realized his miscommunication and expressed his embarrassment.

While I reassured him I was not offended at all, this experience ignited an old internal debate about how integrated I was into the American society. Have I always been perceived as a Middle Eastern, or an American? Will I always be considered different in that context? Today, I still live with this internal debate but I came to accept and appreciate my possible differences. My objective has shifted from seamlessly integrating to bringing positive and diverse contributions from my Moroccan/Syrian upbringing. Now, I strive to be a memorable Middle Eastern neighbor instead of just a Middle Eastern neighbor.

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One Comment

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