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Benbaraka, Aramark’s Employee of the Month, recalls Morocco and challenges in U.S.

By Dana Trismen

Section: Features

October 26, 2012

For the month of October, Aramark dining services have nominated Omar Benbaraka for Employee of the Month. Born in Casablanca, Morocco, Benbaraka has been employed by Aramark for eight years.

Benbaraka describes his hometown as “the biggest city there.” Passionate for soccer, he explored his enthusiasm for the sport by playing in Morocco for 10 years. Originally, Benbaraka held a job making tires, and would work as well as play on a club soccer team. In describing how the tire plant closed down, Benbaraka says, “when they closed, like it meant 740 people without jobs, and it’s hard to get work there, and I was so happy to get a job here.”

Benbaraka describes that his main difficulties in immigrating to the United States involved the language barrier and the weather.

“When I come here, it is very hard time. I came in wintertime, it was snowing, I never seen the snow in my life. We have snow in Morocco, but only in the mountains. I just saw the pictures,” Benbaraka said. He explained that when he first applied for his Visa, he did not know anyone living in the United States. By the time he moved, he located a friend of a friend who lived in Waltham. Despite the snow, Benbaraka said, “I love Waltham. Now it is like a second Casablanca.”

Benbaraka admitted that learning English came with many challenges. He met these difficulties face on, with the help of Brandeis students. “I knew just a little English before I came here, students at Brandeis gave me free English, I really really appreciate it,” Benbaraka said, mentioning students who would teach him English for free. He also admits that Brandeis students helped him pass his citizenship test.

Before working at Brandeis, Benbaraka held many jobs from landscaping to plowing. Once he began working for Aramark, his position shifted many times. “I started working the stocks, after that I work everywhere, dishes, everything, set up the room for parties, etc,” he said. Now, Benbaraka serves as a driver for Aramark, a job he describes as “I do everything, catering, going and picking up the food, and driving the truck around campus.” He claims his favorite part of his job is the mornings.

While Benbaraka has benefited from Brandeis students teaching him English, he eagerly repays his debt by engaging in relationships with students. “I start to get a relationship from talking and if you need help, call me, I am just five minutes from here,” Benbaraka said. He explains how he has given students rides to Logan Airport when students need to fly home and cannot find easy or cheap transportation. “I even see them waving at me in Waltham,” Benbaraka said.

“When I driving I stop to pick them up and bring them to school sometimes,” he added.

Benbaraka claims his favorite Aramark food is the sushi here at Brandeis. Environmentally conscious, Benbaraka explains how “just today we were joking, I tell my friend, please stop sushi because not enough fish in the ocean!”

Benbaraka is proud of his accomplishment in winning Employee of the Month. “It is good because all the crew is hard working,” he said. “I was proud to be picked out of hard workers.”

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