New citizen helps Lincoln Literacy learners get ahead

10/11 NOW at 6
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 4:04 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Tens of thousands of immigrants and refugees call Lincoln home.

For many, Lincoln Literacy is a jumping-off point to get started in their new city, whether that’s by learning English or picking up job skills.

Now there’s even more help along the way on the road to success.

Five days a week at 8:15 in the morning, Marwan Alasaad hits the road in the Lincoln Literacy van.

“I like to help people,” Alasaad said.

Alasaad makes his way around the capital city without GPS. Picking people up to take them to English classes.

Social media posts promotes Alasaad's new job driving for Lincoln Literacy
Social media posts promotes Alasaad's new job driving for Lincoln Literacy(Madison Pitsch)

“When I came to America, you know, I feel how the refugees feel here,” Alasaad said. “Sad, nervous because they don’t know everything here.”

On the day of his interview, he picked up five people. Each person was greeted with a “Good morning!” and “How are you?” It’s a practice in English for both parties.

Alasaad is Syrian and came to the U.S. via Jordan in 2016 because of war.

Last June he applied for his citizenship and got it in December.

“At first I was nervous but now I’m very happy because I have everything,” Alasaad said.

Alasaad is one of 30,000 immigrants and refugees that call Lincoln home.

Marwan picking up students for Lincoln Literacy
Marwan picking up students for Lincoln Literacy(Madison Pitsch)

“Our drivers like Marwan they’re the face of the franchise. They’re the first people that people see before they even come to class on their first day. And every single day, that driver is the person who picks them up, who welcomed them, who opens the door,” said Bryan Seck the Executive Director of Lincoln Literacy. “So having that driver be somebody from the immigrant refugee community, someone who speaks multiple languages is a huge advantage for Lincoln literacy to help get people to class on time, but again, to build that trust within the community.”

Since he arrived in the states Alasad has been driving for companies like Uber, in addition to Lincoln Literacy.

“It’s just so important for us, at Lincoln Literacy to have people from all the cultures that we serve, who either work with us or volunteer with us as tutors, which is equally valuable, but Marwan in particular, really kind of illustrates somebody who came to this country,” Seck said. “And not only he got a job to contribute to society and to his family, but also took the citizenship test and passed, which is a really significant achievement.”

With each trip, every day Alasaad’s Lincoln grows a little bigger.