Muhammad Karim Faizy started his journey from Afghanistan to the United States in the dark of the night in 2021, just before the Taliban took over his hometown. Now, he works for the Virginia Tech Tailor Shop, improving his English, investing in higher education, and creating a new chapter for his family with the help of his new co-workers and neighbors.
Faizy had always subscribed to a life of service, especially in Afghanistan. Before emigrating with his family, he worked as a security guard for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. “The pay was good anywhere, but I knew I would grow professionally and personally at the embassy,” he said.
Hours into the evacuation, he remembered watching his coworkers destroy their computers, documents, and years of hard work in denial. He said he knew it was the end of freedom for his family and friends, and they had to “leave their whole life behind.”
Knowing an arduous journey lay ahead, Faizy, his wife, and his firstborn traveled to Qatar, then to the United States, settling in Pennsylvania. After a few months, he yearned for a place where he could pursue higher education to support his family.
Faizy had earned a bachelor’s degree in Afghanistan, and he heard about Virginia Tech’s academic and professional opportunities and the culture of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). He knew it could be a perfect fit, so his family and he set out for Blacksburg.
With the help of the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership, a volunteer-run organization that aims to resettle refugee families in the New River Valley and help them achieve financial, educational, and career stability, and independence, he learned basic English, settled in a community with fellow refugees, and was hired by the Tailor Shop.
With his previous experience in sewing, he puts together uniforms for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, the Marching Virginians, and a handful of other organizations that utilize the shop. He said he chose this job because it allows him to develop professionally and bring him closer to his academic goal of attending Virginia Tech. Faizy has not begun classes at Virginia Tech but hopes to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in the future.
“When I first met Faizy, he shared his story and mentioned how working with the cadets and helping to create their uniforms was also a way to remember the many military personnel he served alongside of in Afghanistan. For us, Faizy and his family are a reminder of why we develop global, ethical leaders,” said Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, commandant of cadets.
Although Faizy and his family came to Blacksburg for opportunities and to develop their future, they decided to stay because of the sense of community they found here. “The Blacksburg Refugee Partnership did a great job of connecting our families through this unique hardship,” Faizy said.