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At LORD we are committed to our thriving internship program. We believe supporting students as they step out of the classroom into a professional setting by empowering them with meaningful work, benefits all of us.
Mahmoud Osman is a web development intern in our Sensing division, and his personal story has touched us deeply. A model of professionalism, dependability, and kindness, Mahmoud keeps a low profile, but his quiet demeanor belies, on the one hand, an enormous smile, and on the other, an unmatched, steely determination.
This polite, unassuming man who quietly works hard in the office and school, escaped the civil war in Somalia with his brother and lived in a refugee camp in Egypt for 5 years. Upon arrival, he immediately enrolled at Winooski High School without speaking a word of English and is now soon to complete his BA in Computer Science.
But Mahmoud’s extradition to the US meant a heart-wrenching separation from his wife, Falis. She remained in Nairobi for 3 years waiting for approval to join him in the US. With the help of a large refugee population and LORD’s blessing, he was able to visit her a couple of times, and 18 months ago she told Mahmoud via Skype that he was going to be a dad. After months of virtual hugs, kisses and hands touching computer screens meant to bridge the painful divide, when Mahmoud went to Nairobi in July he held his one-year-old, son Mohamad for the first time.
Recent travel ban threats repeatedly delayed years of navigating the intricate visa process and further tried family’s patience. As soon as Mahmoud shared these struggles, those of us with contacts at U.S. Senators Leahy and Sanders’ offices reached out to help in any way we could.
Finally, after years of paperwork, genetic testing, and waiting, in October, Mahmoud went back to Nairobi to bring Falis and little Mohamad to the United States. As word spread, the excitement was palpable throughout the LORD Sensing building. His supervisor, Scott Eagle, emailed the LORD Sensing team inviting those interested to contribute toward the purchase of a baby crib. In a matter of hours, the collection jar had $300. Scott’s reply: “Thanks for donating! It makes me proud to work with all of you.” Some of us couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit the boy’s department of the local clothing stores to help acquit Mohamad with a styling wardrobe, including snuggly jackets to keep him warm as the Vermont winter approached.
The newly reunited family now lives in a two-bedroom apartment where Mohamad has a crib. Like Mahmoud, Falis will endeavor to learn English and acclimate to a completely foreign culture while enjoying the simple pleasures of being together and safe. Their bravery and grace are inspiring.