The Noorzads


Samim and Nargis Noorzad fled Afghanistan once before finally coming to the U.S.

Their families left in the early '90s when the Taliban took over the Afghan government.

Samim's family went south to Pakistan, and Nargis's family went west to Iran.

A decade later, Samim's father returned to Afghanistan to find out whether it was safe enough for his family to return.

It was, and they went back to Kabul in 2003.

"There was no explosions, no war, nothing except for the destructions of war from the last decade," Samim said.

But it didn't last. "I remember the first time I heard of a suicide attack, a suicide bombing," he said.

Samim's family soon found themselves in a war zone because of the resurgence of the Taliban in 2003, two years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.

"Somehow it turned out to be worse than it was before, instead of going to be better," Samim said.

Nargis and Samim attended school, despite the turmoil. Nargis said she finished high school and pursued a bachelor's degree in nursing. Samim studied law and political science. 

You’re starting your life
from zero now.
— Samim Noorzad

Samim said he got a job as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in 2013 to pay for college.

But his neighbors saw him as a traitor, he said. Samim said he started the expedited application process for the Special Immigrant Visa because he did not think his situation would improve.

"Every time there was a crowd, something would happen. There would be an explosion," Samim said. "We always had this fear."

Many of the Taliban's victims came through the emergency room in the hospital where Nargis worked as a nurse.

Like many refugees, Nargis couldn't do in America what she had done in in her home country.

"You're starting your life from zero now," Samim said.

She is taking classes to be a certified nursing assistant while she tries to transfer her university credits from Afghanistan to become a nurse in the United States.

"It at least helped her to be in an environment where she wanted to be, even though it wasn't what she wanted to be," Samim said. 

It's not the same for him. "For me it doesn't matter," he said. "I have a bachelor's in law, but I haven't worked as a lawyer before. It wouldn't affect me so much."

Samim had experience with computers and in communications. He told his case worker he wanted an office job when asked to rank his preference for jobs. 

But he wanted to find work himself. 

"I told the case workers, 'First, tell me how I can look for jobs.' So I started looking for jobs on Indeed," he said, referring to a jobs website. "I was so desperate about working somewhere better [than a factory]."

He found a job as an over-the-phone bank teller at Wells Fargo. He worked there for seven months before he applied for an opening as a case worker.

"I was thinking, if I worked at CCC, I would have more chance of being a lot of help to those who come over just like me," Samim said. 

Adjusting to a new city in a new country hasn't been easy, but positive for the most part. Samim said he experienced only one or two instances where he thought he was a victim of racism.