On a recent afternoon, Hashmatulla Rasooly and his wife sat at the dining table in their Maryland home going through a cultural orientation session with their case worker, Tanya Vitusagavulu. The couple’s two-year-old son squirmed in his mother’s lap. The family, which also includes a daughter, arrived from Afghanistan just under two months ago, and Vitusagavulu’s organization, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, is helping them settle in.
Vitusagavulu first asked the couple how their ESL classes are going. She followed up with questions about their address, phone numbers and who to call in case of an emergency.
A shy smile slowly spreads across the face of Hashmatulla’s wife as she began her answer. The couple is still getting used to the format of American phone numbers and addresses.
Hashmatulla, 30, worked as an interpreter with U.S. forces in Afghanistan for about eight years, but after people he knew were killed by the Taliban, he became worried about his family’s safety and decided to leave. It took about two years for the family to get visas to come to the U.S. through the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program, which is reserved for those who worked with U.S. government forces…