Nate* could have chosen any city when he immigrated to the USA, but he chose Knoxville. He had friends, he says, who were “giving me good words about Knoxville.” They said his children would have a good future if he moved here, and the cost of living was reasonable.
Three years later, Nate is “giving good words” about Knoxville himself! He wants to buy a house and see his children grow into adulthood here.
But getting to Knoxville wasn’t easy.
Nate served as a translator for the US military in Afghanistan for over seven years then worked with NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) for another two years. He did it because he wanted to help his countrymen, and the US Army was truly helping people there. He also wanted to honor his father, a retired colonel in the Afghan military.
He had to leave Afghanistan because his life was in danger from groups who wanted to punish him for the work he did to help his countrymen. So he started the application process for an SIV (Special Immigrant Visa). After two years spent submitting stacks of documents, his application was denied due to “misdocumentation.” He appealed and, with help from advocates, finally received a visa for himself and his family after another two years.
Nate, his wife, and children arrived in Knoxville early in 2019. His family was disappointed because they expected Knoxville to look like New York or San Francisco. After their rural lives in Afghanistan, everyone had to adjust to the industry and computerization of Knoxville. "At least the weather was the same," Nate laughs.
Several KINfolk—now friends—helped Nate and his family adjust to life in Knoxville. His wife takes English classes and recently learned to drive. KIN helped him find a suitable job. After a few months, they bought a car, and the older children are doing well in school!
Nate’s family is still at risk in Afghanistan. He’s trying to help some of them immigrate to Knoxville. He wants Americans to know Afghans are facing incredible hardship right now and most of the conflict is caused by people coming from surrounding countries.
*Names have been changed for privacy.
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