Some of my favorite conversations have been with Uber drivers, many of whom are immigrants who share their stories of what it’s like to make a life in the U.S., given the cultural and linguistic hurdles they often face when they first arrive.
Last year, I struck up a conversation with a driver from Iraq, who came to this country over 15 years ago with his wife and two sons. He was a businessman back home, but when he settled in the Pacific Northwest, he needed work right away. The local food packaging plant was a place where many new immigrants and refugees were employed, where individuals from Afghanistan, Burma, Guatemala, Rwanda and other countries could immediately find work.
I asked my driver, “If you don’t mind me asking, what did you think about the banking system when you first arrived in the U.S.?” He proceeded to tell me the story of how he briefly had an account with a recognized national bank when he first arrived. But after receiving his first statement, he was shocked by the exorbitant fees he was being charged monthly, as well as the lack of quality service he felt he was getting from the staff.
After complaining about this situation at work one day, one of his co-workers, a refugee from Sudan, explained that joining a credit union was a better option. He directed his Iraqi colleague to a local credit union that didn’t charge as high of monthly fees and provided great customer service. My Uber driver then shared how he immediately took his Sudanese co-worker’s advice, and his entire family has been loyal credit union members ever since.
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