Bosnian refugee shares the “light & warmth of hospitality” in the United States

Tent’s podcast “Refugees at Work” celebrates the contributions of refugees to their communities and economies. Our fifth episode features Ajla, a former refugee who fled the war in Bosnia with her family in the early 1990s when she was just six years old. From 1989 to 1992, 2.3 million people fled their homes as a result of the collapse of the six republics of Yugoslavia.

After living in a refugee camp in Croatia, she and her family resettled in the United States to begin a new life.

“As a four or five year old, I knew nothing about the rest of the world, but I kept hearing about the United States and [my mom] thought about what would be the best opportunities for my brother and me to start our new life,” Ajla said.

Throughout her childhood, Ajla grew up with a deep appreciation of the sacrifices her family made to ensure a better life for her. She embraced opportunities in the U.S., earned a college degree, and embarked on a career in hospitality. 

Today, Ajla is the Senior Director of Talent Management and Leadership Development at Hilton where she is supporting the professional growth of her team members around the world.

“I joined Hilton not realizing that I was going to have such an incredible career,”. But from the get-go I knew a lot of what they spoke about when it comes to their culture, their mission, and their vision as a company,” said Ajla. 

“I mean [Hilton’s motto] — “to fill the earth with delight and warmth of hospitality” — who would not want to work for an organization that says that’s what they stand for and believe in?

Listen and subscribe to “Refugees at Work” on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Keep an eye out for future episodes to hear from refugees working at leading companies, running their own businesses, and more. You’ll be inspired by their stories of dedication, resilience, and courage.

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