Lottery winner sees dream come true

Araj Assadian-Arabi (center), relaxes with his host family, Jerry and Patti Ferry, of Florence. Assadian-Arabi, of Iran, won a green card lottery to live and work in the United States.

For Araj Assadian-Arabi, the opportunity to live the American dream came in the most unlikely fashion - through a lottery.

He was chosen as one of 50,000 immigrants to obtain permanent legal residency through the country's green card lottery.

He doesn't know the mathematical odds of it happening, just that it did. His permanent legal residency came about as the result of Araj winning the American Green Card Lottery.

The 25-year-old is a native of Tehran, Iran, but for four years had been living and attending college in the Republic of Azerbajan, a post-Soviet Union country neighboring Iran. He studied computer engineering and management at the University of Khazar, and completed his degree in 2007. He had never been to the United States, but had always longed for the freedoms the country offered.

{josquote}As practitioners of the Baha'i faith, Araj's family in Iran must continue to be discreet in their worship. It's a worry that Araj no longer has in America.{/josquote}

He found out about the green card lottery accidentally while searching the Internet. He saw an advertisement, clicked on a short form and filled it out with no real hope of winning. That was in 2005.

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