Born and raised in Amman, Jordan, I grew up hearing my father’s childhood stories of fleeing Palestine, his homeland, when he was only seven years old. He spoke much of his family leaving home, traveling by foot and only carrying what they could in their two hands. Once they crossed the bridge into Jordan, they became refugees, displaced in a country they’d never been in before.
My father’s family were put in a United Nations refugee camp called Al-Talibiyah, where he spent most of his youth. Early in life, I realized that even though people spend lifetimes in these camps, the camps are still designed and built as though they are temporary, as are their inhabitants.
I want to study design to learn how to bridge the gap between the dweller and the dwelling, in this sense. I want to enable people like my father and extended family to feel at home even in the most unfortunate of circumstances.
I moved to Arlington when I started attending Marymount University as an interior design student. My first home in Arlington was with a beautiful family who offered to support me through my educational journey by hosting me at their home. Their Arlingtonian spirit flourished as they accepted me as one of their own. As an international student living in the US, I often longed for the sense of family. My Arlington family has allowed me not into their house, but into their home.
Arlington is a beautiful, friendly, place. It is small and feels like a caring community. I like how accessible most things are in Arlington. Also—I love the parks in Arlington!
My professional and volunteering experiences have been conducive to my vision. I spent the last few years volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and Islamic Relief USA, working closely with disenfranchised families to create homes that are tailored to their needs. I’ve also learned to do some construction work on the side; paint, hang dry walls, and basic plumbing and electricity. I believe that these skills allow the abstraction of design to be grounded in reality.
In addition to developing professional skills, I have tried to foster my artistic ability working as a landscape designer on one hand and holding art shows for my paintings on the other. I enjoy making things that require a lot of meticulousness and detail. Earlier this year, I donated one of my pieces to the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University at the Immigrants as Entrepreneurs event. The institute was auctioning donated pieces by local immigrants to continue funding its research on immigrant communities. This was particularly fulfilling to the other contributing artists and to me as we were able to see the breadth of what art and creativity can do.
I think that joining Arlington For Everyone campaign will help me actualize what I have grown up dreaming of doing. I believe that everyone in the world deserves home and community.
Written by Ahmad Abumraighi. You can support his educational goals with a gift via LaunchGood.
Arlington for Everyone Campaign Principles
We support an Arlington for Everyone, in which people from all walks of life are welcomed to live and fully participate in our community.
We believe that Arlington is a greater place because of its openness to inclusivity and dedication to social and economic diversity.
We recognize that creating and maintaining a variety of housing options and a commitment to long-term affordability in Arlington is essential to this diversity.