When Hanady and Hibba Adam moved to America in 2010, they knew that the language barrier would be one of the toughest obstacles for them to overcome. The sisters spoke Arabic as their native language, so learning English became part of their main focus. Coming to Kentucky from the Sudan would be a huge life change, one the pair was determined to face together.
The two sisters enrolled in courses at Owensboro Community and Technical College and began working on their college degrees. One of their first work goals was to find a place with face to face interaction so they could begin to assimilate with their new culture as they learned to carry on conversations. Hibba chose to major in network administration and Hanady majored in biology. Both received honors while in college and made the Dean’s List.
Hibba worked at a fast food restaurant for less than a year before realizing that she was not able to accomplish her goal of practicing using her second language.
“They had me working back in the kitchen,” Hibba recalls. “I wasn’t interacting with customers or getting to meet people.”
Meanwhile, Hanady landed a job that she fell in love with. While working at a local office supply store, she met Mark Whiteman, restaurant operator at Chick-fil-A who suggested that she come to work there. After about two months, she enjoyed the job so much that she decided it was time to bring her sister on board.
“She told me that I should come work with her because it was fun and the food was good,” Hibba remembers.
It didn’t take Hibba long to realize that this new job was a much better fit than her previous job, and she was thrilled to have more responsibility than standing back in the kitchen all day. Through interaction with the customers, getting the chance to take orders, work in the lobby, and meet new people, Hibba found the same fondness for Chick-fil-A that her sister did.
Even during the busiest lunch hours when a few employees head outside to take customer orders, Hibba finds she enjoys the fast pace of her job and the chance to work both inside and outside during her shift. She said during their busiest hours, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., they often serve more than 150 cars. They use the outdoor workers to help the lines move more efficiently and fulfill orders more quickly.
“I like to go outside and take orders,” Hibba said. “It breaks up the day and makes the shift go by faster.”
The sisters have been at Chick-fil-A for nearly three years now. Hibba works the morning shift and Hanady works the night shift, so they usually only encounter each other at work in passing between the two shifts.
Hibba describes her work as a place with friendly customers, a fun environment and great food.
“My favorite meal is the original chicken sandwich meal,” Hibba said. “One of the reasons I love to work here is because I love the food we serve.”
When she’s not at Chick-fil-A, Hibba loves to visit the local library. She enjoys the small community of Owensboro and the friendly faces she gets to encounter every day. She has learned some of her customers so well that when they walk up to place their order, she already has it memorized.
As far as the language barrier, Hibba said it took her about a year and a half to really get comfortable with the English language.
“We wanted to find a place to work where we could practice communicating with people,” Hibba said. “I have found the perfect place here.”