Khalida: one cup of coffee at a time.

Khalida is a Meskhetian Turk who knew what type of work she wanted. It was an aspiration that had little hope of coming true.

During World War II, in 1944, thousands of Meskhetians were deported to Uzbekistan. They were not accepted as citizens.  Ethnic hostility broke out in 1989 and they were expelled and officially became refugees under the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). No country in that region wanted them as citizens. Many, like Khalida’s family, fled to Russia where they were allowed to live but with no legal rights of any kind – no citizenship, voting rights, passport, right to marry, nothing. It was a struggle to survive.

All this changed when the United States agreed to accept the Meskhetian Turks as refugees. In America they could eventually be naturalized and become citizens. Khalida arrived in Seattle in 2005 full of ambition.

“I want to work in a store,” she told Jan Greene, World Relief’s job developer.  Jan knew the first hurdle to overcome was to learn English.  Khlalida faithfully attended the World Relief English class.

A job vacancy came along. Jan took her for the interview but she didn’t get the job, “We like you very much Khalida, but you need more English.”

A few weeks passed and another interview came along. Again Khalida was told, “Sorry, but you need better English.” Khalida remained determined and continued studying the complexities of English.

Days passed and Safeway had a vacancy in their in-store Starbucks. Khalida tried again. “How would you like to be a barista at our Starbucks cafe?” asked the manager.

Jan held her breath. How would Khalida handle all those new words like “venti”, “latte”, “single shot”, “double non-fat without cream”?

“Yes,” replied Khalida, replying crisply without hesitation. Khalida was hired and completed the Starbucks week-long training, all in English, of course.

“Khalida is a woman with polish and determination” notes Jan Greene.

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