Iraqis find home away from home in Clifton Park

According to Saffar, Hala would like to work as a teacher's aide before seeking her math certification to become a math teacher.

Haithem and Hala's daughter, Hiba, has taken the resettlement very hard, Saffar said.

"She is the one very much affected by this," Saffar said.

Hiba left college in Jordan to resettle in the United States with her family after two years of dentistry study, according to Saffar.

"It has been one trauma after another," Saffar said.

"Everything is new to them," she said. Even the light switch is confusing to the family, who is accustomed to pushing the switch down to turn the light on, Saffar said.

Although the American light switch causes a bit of confusion, the family is quickly learning English, which both Haithem and Hala studied English in college, according to Saffar.

"We do value education in our culture, and it's just so painful to hear the stereotypes against us," Saffar said of Iraqis.

Saffar said safety is a big concern for the family, and they often check to ensure that all the doors are locked, even though Saffar assures them they are safe in her home.

Despite the difficulty of breaking into the American way, the family has received an outpouring of support from Saffar's friends.

She said one of her friends offered to lend Haithem a car at no cost for as long as he needs.

"I was very much touched by the thoughtfulness of my friend," Saffar said.

While Saffar is enjoying the time spent with her brother and his family, she continues to worry about her parents who left Baghdad in 2006 for Syria, where they joined the more than 2.5 million Iraqi refugees who have fled to Syria since the 2003 invasion.

Saffar moved to the United States more than 15 years ago with her then-husband-husband-to-be, who was seeking physician board certification and planned to complete a residency at Albany Medical Center.

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