Mohamad Elhagehassan

As Interviewed by Ali Elhagehassan, March 17, 2018

Mohamad Elhagehassan: I His Own Words

Mohamad Elhagehassan: In His Own Words
As Interviewed by: Ali Elhagehassan

My name is Mohamad Elhage, I am a Muslim, and a Lebanese American.

Well at the time even in Lebanon, it was a civil war going on and even some factions there holding hostage American hostages. It was still no that much of scrutiny on visa applicants because the notion of terrorism that's spread or kind of the perception of how to handle visas or issue visas for citizens in countries where people think are lots of terrorists, it wasn’t there back then even though in Lebanon at the time there were actually American hostages being held, but once you just satisfy the requirements of a visa pretty much it was a done deal.

I remember I came here in January 11, 1985 and I still remember I got my visa in November 1984. So it was about 2 months which was enough for me to research the city, the place I was coming to, the weather, so to for me to plan on what to bring and what to expect. Well I did make some money on my own tutoring and working at the University because I did go to a University in Lebanon for a year before I came here. The ticket was not, well it was expensive at the time if you look at the value of a dollar today it was about 800 dollars I remember. It was hard to come up with the money for the ticket and college and everything but it was nothing unexpected.

I came to Tucson, Arizona and it was the most accepting place in terms of the people of Tucson and University officials. The first year at the University I studied English as a second language because I knew no English whatsoever before I came here so the center of English as a second language was well everyone there is foreigner and that kind of made the transition easier. I would say the first 2, 3, weeks maybe a month well communication was hard and was tough and at times I would think that well I used to see some friends or soon-to-be friends from Lebanon that came a few years before I did to Tucson and I used to be with them when they spoke English and I used to say that i’m never going to be as good as they are so it’s frustrating but that's a part of learning. In terms of studies it wasn’t hard because we were just studying English and watched lots of TVs so that helped a lot. After 3 months, 3 and a-half months it was smooth sailing which made it much easier to communicate and go to a place where people can understand you. I did have enough money to pay for the first year and the English as a second language program but after that I made it on my own. I remember I came here with 300 dollars that's all I had but obviously the residents hall and tuition was paid for but after that I had to make it by myself and support myself on my own.