Meet Our International Professionals Program Participants (Spring 2022 Cohort)

On Thursday, March 24, 2021 The Welcoming Center hosts a recognition ceremony for the Spring 2022 cohort of our International Professionals Program (IPP).

IPP is an eight-week course for career readiness training followed by six months of job coaching. It brings together a diverse group of international professionals with bachelor’s degrees or higher and U.S. work authorization seeking to enter the U.S. workforce through meaningful employment or fellowship opportunities.  

Some our participants shared more about themselves. Learn more below.


Aissatou Barry

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Aissatou Barry was born in Guinea, West Africa. After graduating from high school she moved to Nice in France to continue her studies. She holds a master’s degree in law, economic, management from Nice, France.

In her previous experience, she worked as a human resource assistant. Her responsibilities were to coordinate the recruiting process and assist with payroll. Before that she worked as an associate in the hospitality field. Having a passion to help people, she volunteered with the association of Guinean students for 2 years in Nice to assist new student to register at school, search for housing, and planned and organized entertainment events.

She’s currently living in Philadelphia and works as a customer service representative, learning English and participating in the International Professionals Program to make a transition in her career and seeking a job as a human resource specialist.


Djamila Slimani

Djamila Slimani was born and raised in Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria.  As a student, she graduated from Tizi-Ouzou’s Mouloud Mammeri University, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology (biochemistry) in July 2013.  She loves the field of biology and would very much have liked to remain in that career path.

But that plan was interrupted when she moved to the United States at the end of 2013 with an immigrant visa.  She decided that she would have to put her biology career on hold while she became familiar with life in the U.S.  She wanted jobs that put her in daily touch with many people and found such a position at Philadelphia’s International Airport. There she built a great reputation for serving travelers who passed through the airport’s terminals.  Her ability to speak Berber, Arabic, French, and English fluently helped her a great deal to be able to communicate with more people in such an international setting.  The job certainly allowed her to interact with a very wide variety of customers and proved to be a good way to learn about local mannerisms as well.

At present, Djamila is enrolled in the International Professionals Program offered by The Welcoming Center.  Her goal is to return to the type of work she loves most – medicine – and IPP provides classes meant to help her achieve her goal.


Gesi Troka

Gesi Troka was born and raised in Fier, Albania and has a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from the European University of Tirana, where he graduated in 2020.

From August to October 2021, Gesi attended an internship program organized by Tirana Bank. There he was part of the customer service and credit departments, where he learned a lot about the finance industry and culture, from assisting customers to analyzing financial statements of different businesses.

Gesi moved to the U.S. in October 2021 with an immigrant visa, allowing him to work and live here permanently, and he is looking forward to this opportunity.


Imad Bekakria

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Imad Bekakria recently graduated with a master’s degree in business and commercial sciences. Determined and experienced in finance and marketing, Imad has one year of finance work experience as a Finance Assistant with Multinational distributor named Fattal Group where dealt with the company’s receivables, data analysis and other financial and accounting tasks. He also has two internships with two different banks in Algeria and a few years of experience in digital marketing.

Imad immigrated to the U.S. in December 2021 and speaks English, French, and Arabic.


Iryna Mozova

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Iryna Mozova is a goal-oriented educator with a Ph.D. in Russian and a M.A. in English. During her 17-year career in higher education, she helped hundreds of students with various backgrounds and majors to excel in languages. She also developed innovative courses and supervised students’ research and diploma projects.

Iryna, who is originally from Ukraine, immigrated to the U.S. in 2019. Since then, she has been involved in archival and historic research connected with Eastern Europe.

Besides Russian and English, she is also fluent in Ukrainian.


Lounis Mohammedi

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Lounis Mohammedi graduated from Bejaia-Algeria University in economic sciences (option: economic analysis) and has over 5 years of experience in public and private companies. Additionally, he worked in many fields such as commerce, industry, technology and services.

Currently, he owns and operates Aras LLC Taxi-cab and received a taxi license and medallion from city of Philadelphia. From 2012-2021, Lounis held a variety of jobs as contractor since emigrating from Algeria in January 2012, while learning English, culture, and taking courses toward transferring professionals’ skills. From 2009 to 2011, he served as tax agent for tax preparation and reception for over 2,400 clients at a mid-sized government office. He was also a control officer and census taker for over 5,000 households in his department (Tibane-Bejaia). Finally, he was also a commercial agent/project manager for +10 workforce in a food company.

Currently, he’s in the International Professionals Program seeking to find job in macro-micro economics, econometry, politic economic analysis, project evaluation, and demographic analysis.


Lyliane Ben Zaid

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Lyliane Ben Zaid is an Algerian immigrant living in the United States since Fall 2021. She moved from France where she received a master’s degree from the University of Lorraine in civil engineering and worked as a construction manager. She led many renovation projects there. These challenging projects provided her strong organizational and project management skills.

Lyliane speaks Berber, Arabic, French, and English. She is learning with The Welcoming Center, thanks to the International Professionals Program, to actively increase her participation in the larger society and find a job as a civil engineer.


Nassima Allache

Nassima Allache has a bachelor’s degree in education from Algeria and 2 years of administrative experience, managing office operations. She enjoys providing excellent customer service, working collaboratively with different department to achieve maximum operations impacts, conserve time and boost efficiency. She is hoping to find a job as an administrative assistant or work in office management.


Ramona Aybar-Kazzaz

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Ramona Aybar-Kazzaz has a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She has extensive experience in staff recruitment, selection & training.

Ramona emigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2016. Since then, she has worked as Office Assistant at Caring Heart Health Services, managing the office’s workflow, and supporting patient’s staff.

Ramona is a volunteer at the the LDS Church, connecting older persons and members with needed resources for food, bill assistance, housing, etc. She is looking for work in HR, as an executive assistant or case manager in a nonprofit organization.


Raphael Filhao Primos

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Raphael Fialho Primos has over 10 years of experience in digital marketing and strategic planning. Working with agencies and brands of all sizes in Brazil and Portugal, he knows the latest products, tools, and practices for performance analysis and digital marketing. He has extensive practice in team leadership and project management. He holds a BA in journalism and social sciences.


Sara Terracciano

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Sara Terracciano is an Italian expat living in the U.S. since 2018. She is a bilingual legal professional, with over 15 years of working experience in both Italian law firms and U.S. corporate legal departments, and a solid background in administrative management.

Sara worked for 7 years as an attorney in Italy, where she was an associate at a law firm in her hometown city of Sulmona. When she moved to the U.S., she completed a training program in Compliance Management at Torchlight Technology Group, a Philadelphia-based digital marketing technology solutions company. She now works as an Office Administrator at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, where she embraced a new experience with the aim of expanding her administrative skills in one of the most compelling sectors of the American business.

Sara holds a Juris Doctor Degree from La Sapienza University of Rome and she speaks English and Italian.


Selma Erus

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Selma Erus is an educator and has been dedicated to teaching in Philadelphia early child care centers for more than eight years. Selma also worked as a teacher in high schools in Turkey and educated immigrant children in nonprofit organizations in France.

In 2010, Selma emigrated to the U.S. from Turkey and worked in early childhood education, organizing community playgroups to low socio-economic and immigrant families and their children in West Philadelphia.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey and a master’s degree with Fulbright Scholarship from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Both universities are ranked in the top five universities in Turkey.

Selma speaks Turkish, French, and English.


Serena (Xiaoyan) Chen

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Serena (Xiaoyan) Chen is a bilingual (English and Mandarin) communicator who specializes in trade sourcing and procurement in international trade. She has worked for Sino-Australian Joint Venture as well multiple Iranian companies within China and the UAE.  Serena has worked for over 10 years in foreign trade export.

Serena has managed a team of five sales specialists, overseeing their work of purchasing parts for oil and gas refineries. Her team negotiated transactions worth over $3,000,000.00 on a yearly basis. Under her supervision, the team travelled to over 30 factories throughout China to source the finest products with the lowest costs. A strong believer in approaching the world as a student, Serena continues to learn about her industry, surroundings, and peers.

In July 2021, she received her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certificate with The Kaivalya Yoga Method. She studies yoga every day to better herself mentally, physically and spiritually.  Serena is also learning Spanish as a third language.

Serena took a leap of faith and decided to migrate to the U.S. for additional opportunities. Currently residing in Philadelphia, Serena has established an entire new life in the U.S.  Every day is another adventure and lesson and every day, she continues to strive to better herself and her skills.

Our participants are a highly skilled group of bilingual and multilingual talent with global experience who bring years of knowledge, skills, and experience with themTo connect with any of our international professionals for employment or fellowship opportunities, please contact Rochelle T. Cooks, Director of Workforce Development, through our contact form. 

Do you want to apply for IPP? Visit the IPP page to learn more and apply!

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The Welcoming Center