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It Takes A Team: Part 2


By: Juilee Shivalkar

Last week, we shared more about how Marwan and his team first began his ASL lesson. If you haven’t already, click here to read it! Now, read more about how Araz first met the family and helped them adjust to life in Clarkston.

A Syrian refugee herself, Araz resettled in Georgia nearly two years ago. Araz is one of the key people who helped Marwan and his family adapt to their new life.

While their move wasn’t easy, coming to Clarkston was good for Marwan’s family. When Araz first met Marwan and his wife, Haifaa, they were understandably nervous about starting their new life. Araz’s transition had also been challenging, and she used her experiences to help Marwan and his family.

Haifaa was scared when she first ran into Araz outside their apartment building. Having recently resettled in Georgia as a refugee from Syria, Haifaa was struggling with the move.

“I told her, why are you scared? You’re safe now – don’t be scared. I was scared, too, when I first came almost two years ago, but now I’m so happy,” Araz says about their first encounter.

Haifaa told Araz about her husband, Marwan, who was deaf and struggling to learn ASL, and Araz agreed to help in any way she could. Araz speaks seven languages: Kurdish, Arabic, English, Turkish, (some) Spanish, and both Arabic and American Sign Language. What a gift she offered for Marwan’s tutoring!

Over the past few months, Araz has helped the family in many ways – even beyond helping Marwan learn American Sign Language. She helped Haifaa adjust to life in Clarkston, and she often stops by to visit their kids or drop off food.

“We’re like family now,” she explains.

Araz first learned Arabic Sign Language because a few women on her mom’s side of the family are deaf. She has a friend and neighbor who is also deaf, but she can understand her, just like she can understand Marwan.

Looking to the future, Araz plans to start her own catering business. When I asked, she almost couldn’t pick her favorite foods to cook, which include maklouba, kebab and grape leaves. For now, she settles for sharing her cooking with a few friends, including Marwan and his family. Soon, Araz is planning on moving to Lilburn – she’s sad to leave, but she believes it will offer better school options for her kids.

Read Part 3 Here!

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