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Sioux City's Mayor Mentors Afghan Refugee

Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott
Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer
Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott

The Taliban took over Afghan almost two years ago. At one time, 600 refugees called Iowa Home, including here in Siouxland. Siouxland Public Media's Sheila Brummer introduces us to one young man learning from one of our community's leaders.

Watching his skills on a calculator, it's obvious Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott knows a thing or two about taxes.

"This is my 50th year, which means I'm old. I started in 1972, right out of college."

Scott, a longtime owner of a tax-preparing business, mentors a future accountant, 25-year-old Noor.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

"Bob has hired me as his trainee accountant, so I'm learning about taxes and doing some accounting work for him."

Accountants deal with numbers, and Noor shares his most significant digits.

"I came here on September 16, 2022."

That's the date the 25-year-old arrived in the United States before landing in Sioux City.

"I got off the plane and looked around the airport, and I said, I want to leave this place because I didn't look like California or Virginia because they're the famous states."

Before leaving Afghanistan, Noor spent a restless year hiding in his home. He assisted U.S. troops for five years, first as a linguist and then in administrative roles surrounding the aviation supply chain.

"Yeah, yeah, there were security concerns and safety concerns. My father wouldn't let me go out or hang out with my friends because he was afraid the Taliban was everywhere and that you must be someone that did some kind of work with the previous government."

"I was hiding in a room, and I was studying only." "I just had to hide and spend the time until the evacuation took place, and I left Afghanistan."

Mayor Scott heard about Noor and hired him full-time at the beginning of the year. Noor balances work with pursuing a master's degree in accounting through the University of London.

"Well, he's been a great worker. And he's very smart at learning new things. And there isn't a task that he hasn't tried that we've asked him to do. So we're very pleased with him and are excited to hopefully keep him around."

Noor enjoys his position and colleagues but admits his real love surrounds the arts, acting, or painting. But for him, people rank higher than personal pursuits.

"I don't think you can follow your passion all of the time. I have a family of 15 or 16 members. Yeah, I have 15 members to support right now. I have to pay off my bills in America, So, to get a better life or better future."

Noor's new journey includes guidance from the top.

"It is quiet, peaceful. And this is why I stayed in Sioux City. And I didn't even dream of getting a job with the mayor of Sioux City in his accounting office."

"Working with Bob was taking me toward a better and brighter future."

And the relationship between mentor and employee goes both ways.

"We're still learning about his culture, as he's still learning about ours, but the one thing we all have in common is we want to do better for our families. And he certainly is trying to do that to bring some of his family to America."

Noor not only works for his loved ones back home but for his future.

"Being a businessman and being a professional accountant, and just being useful to American society."

Siouxland Public Media reached out to state and local officials to try and find out how many refugees currently live in Iowa and Woodbury County. An exact number was not available at this time.

* to preserve Noor's identity, his last name and image were not used for this story.