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Hi, my name is Meryem Ouahbi. I ended up in Dubuque in search of knowledge. I came here with a scholarship to Loras College, and the reason I found Loras is because my brother was here in Dubuque prior to me joining him three years later. The reason my brother ended up in Dubuque is that 20 years ago, we used to have a cousin who was married and had a family in Dubuque. Ironically, when I came here 18 years ago he was already gone. So, the short answer to how I ended up in Dubuque is to me, simply destiny.

The first thing I noticed about Dubuque when I moved here 18 years ago was the happy smile on people’s faces and saying, ‘hi, how are you?’ That was very new to me. In Islam, my religion, we believe that smiling in the face of others is charity, so in that way, I do believe that Dubuque has been very generous to me. I also find a lot of family values and small community values here in Dubuque that are kind of fading away in metropolitan areas. I lived in Chicago for four years with my husband when our kids were little. We lived in a condo, and for four years I never knew the name of one of my neighbors. It is nice in Dubuque, when I go out to grocery shop, I run into people from work. I run into people from my kids’ school. I run into people from the gym. That gives it a nice feel.