The faculty and staff of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures sprung up from their chairs, jumped up and down and screamed over the news Abla Hasan had just shared.

She had finally gotten her green card.

She’d spent nine years in America since leaving Syria for her schooling as a Fulbright Scholar. Now she could finally call this place “home,” after receiving her green card in February.

It was a moment of relief for both Hasan and her co-workers. The stressful years waiting for an answer combined with the fear of losing her job over the possibility of a soon-to-be expired visa were over.

And based off the reactions from many in her department – Hasan losing her job was not an option.

Three years ago, Hasan was hired on as a professor of practice of Arabic at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. At this point, Arabic studies were not formalized – a designation existed, but a professor wasn’t attached to it.

Even so, the Admin Tech of the department, Shannon Parry, said the interest expressed in learning Arabic was high – and still is. Hasan essentially grew the program, she said, one of the reasons Parry said Hasan receiving her green card was vital to the university.

In her three years as a professor, Hasan has contributed to the Arabic program by creating the Arabic studies minor.

She partnered with other departments on campus to create a program aimed at engaging students in different aspects of Arabic culture and language.

“The Arabic world is quite huge,” Parry said. “And she’s done this on her own. She’s definitely been mentored by other people in the department, but this is something that she’s really been passionate about – sharing her culture with many other people. During the Paris bombing attacks she was very vocal. Not just on the campus, but in the greater Lincoln community.”

She’s dedicated to showing others what it means to be a Muslim woman in the United States, according to Parry.

But concerns that Hasan would no longer have the opportunity to display her culture here consumed her personal life during her three years of teaching. Others would never know – she never showed it.

She had resilience on her side, as well as a lot of supporters.

“To be honest, since I’m from Syria I had no other options besides getting so worried about the process,” Hasan said. “But I was able to go through it with help. The people around me supported me. I was so happy, so overwhelmed. I had emails from people I know and from people I don’t know supporting me.”

Emails were on the bottom tier of the support she received. Many people went out of their way to submit letters to congressmen or make calls to offices.

In Hasan’s case, getting a green card was more complicated and longer than usual. The process has four stages. The third stage – getting permanent work authorization – usually takes a maximum of four months. For Hasan, it took a year.

Hasan said the wait time was extended for unknown reasons, but she thinks it may be due to new procedures in the system or perhaps extra security as a result of recent terrorist attacks.

Even with a daunting three years, she was never angry with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“I know it was a stressful process,” Hasan said, “but at the same time it was rewarding for me because I know good people are out there. To tell you the truth, I trust the system. Those extra security background checks and all of that is gonna make the lives of all of us better. I’m happy that the process is done the right way.”

Now that she’s endured the hardest part, her students – who she told little about her green card struggles – are celebrating, too.

They knew little because of the line Hasan draws between her professional and personal life, yet junior global studies major Mae Anne Balschweid feels as if she has a friend in Hasan, based on the way she runs her classes.

“It’s a running joke that we can be friends as soon as I’m not one of her students,” Balschweid said. “She’s such an encouraging and engaging individual. Arabic is not easy and she throws out things that are uncomfortable enough to make us realize students can do more than they think.”

Balschweid also said Hasan creates dialogue that creates messages about things bigger than just her culture – through her classes, the panels she participates in and the cultural events she hosts.

“She loves her culture and her religion – that really comes through,” Balschweid said. “She brings things in like Arabic food or clothing to help us fall in love too. But she wants to present Arabic language and culture as more than just Muslim. It represents so many things. She’s teaching us to get out of our comfort zones such as going to a mosque and meeting someone there.”

Hasan has brought her language, culture and her courage to her students. And now with her green card in hand, she’s here to stay.

“The last three years have taught me a lot,” Hasan said. “People trusted me, I feel a part of the community and I know I can do a lot.”