Stories of successful Lebanese expats in the U.S.

Despite succeeding in the U.S., some encourage the Lebanese people to stay in Lebanon.
by Maria Matar

29 June 2018 | 16:05

Source: by Annahar

  • by Maria Matar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 29 June 2018 | 16:05

This undated photo shows Lebanese expat Chantale Charo. (Photo Courtesy of Chantale Charo)

BEIRUT: Two flags, two lands, and two homes in one heart; that is the situation of many Lebanese people who immigrated to the U.S. and embarked on a journey of success there. Their roots are in Lebanon, but their fruits flourished in the U.S.

“America is the land of dreams and opportunities. However, to reach the point where you succeed there, you have to go through a long procedure,” said Hikmat Brassitos, a young Lebanese who is an immigrant in the U.S.

After receiving a Master’s degree in economics, he found himself a jobless graduate; which then prompted him to leave to the U.S. in 2013 in the pursuit of a career.

There, he and his brother, who also immigrated with him, came up with the idea of serving Frollz, which is a Thai concept of ice cream rolls. After witnessing their business’ online presence, they decided to establish a shop to serve it on Square One Mall in Saugus. Ever since, it has been rolling in success and the shop became popular. Stretching the business to their homeland, his sister opened a branch in Lebanon.

Brassitos recounted his keys to success in the U.S.

“One should have a good amount of credit, start a small business and then expand. It is essential to have the patience to stand until the end, since it’s a rough road, especially as an immigrant,” he told Annahar.

This photo shows Lebanese expat Hekmat Brassitos. (HO)

Similarly, Joseph Bou Khalil immigrated to the U.S. back in 1985, aiming for a better life.

After settling down, he started his own business, Joseph Jewelry, making high-end custom design jewelry in a small shop in a building in Bellevue Washington.

A few years later, he expanded his business and purchased all the retail spaces in the building. He has also recently established a second location in Seattle Washington.

“It was exciting to learn and adapt to a foreign culture and expand my horizon. In the U.S., one can grow personally and economically. With a will to succeed and unperishable enthusiasm, it’s impossible to fail,” he said.

On the flipside, despite succeeding in the U.S., Chantale Charo encourages the Lebanese people to stay in Lebanon.

“The grass always seems greener on the other side, until you actually reach the other side. Both countries have their advantages and disadvantages. But, in the end, if we all immigrate, Lebanon will no longer exist. It is the people, not the land, which make a country,” she said.

After studying in the American University of Beirut, she went to the U.S. in 2003, after receiving a scholarship from the MD Anderson cancer center in the University of Texas.

She was then offered a job as a professor at the University of Miami, despite being just 24 years old. She soon realized, however, that this job will hinder her from visiting her family in Lebanon whenever she wants.

So, in 2008, she created the Hottie Detox, providing people with products that help with weight loss. Her online selling website has reached great success.

She currently visits Lebanon from time to time, since her business grew in her homeland too.

“It’s in our blood, as Lebanese people, to fight for what we want and work hard for it; our ambitions can lead us anywhere. My capital at first wasn’t money, it was my sweat and hard work. It feels great to make my country proud, since the foundation of my dreams was laid in it,” she said.

Similarly, though dreaming and studying to become an architect in Lebanon, Ala Tannir eventually ended up working in the world famous Museum of Modern Art in NYC. She applied for an internship there, and due to her skills, she was later offered a job as a researcher.

This photo shows Lebanese expat Ala Tannir. (HO)

The Museum of Modern Arts in New York is one of the top museums in the U.S. and Tannir works there with Paola Antonelli, one of the most successful designer curators in the world.

Tannir believes that New York contains a huge diversity in terms of interests, backgrounds, and pursuits, which, she believes, enriches one’s mind.

Still, Tannir feels homesick away from her country and plans to return and contribute to improvement, as she finds it hard to do that now from afar.

“I no longer live in Lebanon, but it still lives in me,” Tannir told Annahar.


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