Afghan Upwardly Global Alum Spotlighted in “Thriving” Audio Documentary From Technical.ly

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Afghan Upwardly Global alum Ghulam Danish was spotlighted in the first episode of “Thriving,” a new audio documentary podcast from Technical.ly. The series is a “storytelling initiative aimed at centering and collecting the lived experiences of Philadelphia in order to generate insights about the economic opportunities and obstacles along their journeys to financial security and freedom.”

Listen to the podcast on Technical.ly, iTunesSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

“[I]n a country that’s getting older, immigrants bolster our workforce. They create vibrant communities and bring fresh ideas.”

In Afghanistan, Ghulam was a Media Analyst, helping U.S. companies in Afghanistan analyze incoming communications for potential threats and security risks. But when the U.S. withdrew from the country in 2021, Ghulam knew his work with American companies put his family’s future in danger. On the sixth day of the evacuation, Ghulam, his wife Naija (who was nine months pregnant at the time), and their daughter Angela, who was 4 at the time, fled Afghanistan for the United States.

When Ghulam arrived in Philadelphia, he hoped to find a job utilizing his skill set to support his growing family. However, despite having a master’s degree and speaking four languages, Ghulam soon encountered systemic barriers to gainful employment. He was alternatively told he was over- or underqualified for the jobs he applied for and suspected that employers were dismissive because of his foreign accent. Discouraged but undeterred, Ghulam started washing dishes in the cafeteria of a local children’s hospital and later began driving for Uber once he purchased a car. The jobs paid the bills, but Ghulam struggled with the physical labor of working in a kitchen, suffering from back pain from the long hours spent driving or on his feet.

With a third baby on the way, Ghulam knew he needed to find stable work in order to preserve his health and have more time with his family. After discovering Upwardly Global, Ghulam was paired with a job coach, a fellow refugee from Afghanistan. Together they prepared him for interviews, polished his language skills, and revised his resume. After months of searching, Ghulam finally found a skill-aligned job that he was passionate about: helping new arrivals like him as a Career Coach for refugees at the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia.

“I really want to help them a lot,” Ghulam says about the refugees he now works with. “I’ve gone the same path that they are now. I know how it feels for them to be searching for better jobs and having difficulties here.”

Ghulam enjoys his newly free weekends with his family, including his youngest daughter, Sarah. He has started a running club for fellow immigrants to expand their community and learn from one another.

“This is a kind of personal revolution that happened to me recently. So it’s a really great growth for me. And I’m … nowadays, I’m really living peaceful life.”

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