TechTown Mentor Celebrates First Thanksgiving as a Citizen

Faris Alami, ISM Owner

Faris Alami

When 18-year-old Faris Alami arrived in America in 1990, he was fleeing Sadam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Faris and his family were stateless Palestinians residing in a Kuwaiti border town.

Fortunately, he was welcomed to America by a cousin residing in Arizona.

“That Thanksgiving, everything was very strange to me. I couldn’t make sense of a country that dedicated a holiday to turkey,” Faris says. “As a kid my exposure to America was in stories of ‘Cowboys and Indians.’ What that had to do with turkey was beyond me.”

Over the next twenty years, Faris lived two lives. One was as any young man in the United States, gaining an education, falling in love, building a business, starting a family. The other was the fate of a stateless immigrant trapped by circumstance, hounded with the threat of deportation by the Department of Homeland Security.

After a long and arduous struggle, Faris was finally granted resident alien status in 2009. In December 2011 he traveled to Kuwait and saw his family for the first time in 20 years. And on November 8, 2012, he was sworn in as an American Citizen.

Faris is the owner of Integration Systems Management in Troy, Michigan, and holds a position at Wayne State University’s TechTown business incubator. “I am so grateful to finally celebrate this holiday as an American Citizen, and to know all that freedom really means to us as a people,” he says. “For the first time in 20 years, I feel secure. I thank God for America, for my wife and family, for the thousands of people from around the world who supported me through this journey.”

Faris notes that there are several Muslim holidays that are similar to American Thanksgiving, such as Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. Eid feasts generally include goat or sheep dishes served with salads and cheese pies, hummus, and other traditional Arabic foods.

He celebrates Thanksgiving with his American in-laws, making it a true international holiday by bringing an Arabic side dish. “One day, I might even cook a turkey Arabic-style,” he says with a grin that can only come to a man who is, once and for all, a true American.

For more information on Faris Alami, visit

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