Hashem Hatahet, Class of 2017
What are your best memories about being born and raised in Syria?
School days, family gatherings at my grandma’s house, and working with my dad every summer where I learned everything I know now. With everything going on now, I am still very proud that I was born and raised in Syria.
Why did you choose to come to the US to study?
I made my final decision about coming to the US because I believe that it is one of the greates countries in the world where I can start building my future. Also, my family wants to settle here eventually so that was another reason why I chose to come to the US.
What challenges did you face while traveling here?
I had to leave Syria immediately after I got my visa because things were getting worse, and they were taking people randomly for the military. Good thing I was only 17 (the age where you have to join the military was 18) at that time, and didn’t face any problems leaving the country. The hardest part was saying goodbye to my family knowing that I might never be able to come back.
Have you experienced any positive or negative feedback here on campus or in Evansville?
To be honest, I have never experienced any negative feedback neither on campus nor in Evansville. The people here and the community are extremely nice and friendly.
What words come to mind when you think about Syria’s civil war?
I think about all the innocent people that are suffering from hunger, cold, torture, etc., and all they wanted was freedom.
In your opinion, what is the solution to the current political crisis and where do you see Syria ten years from now?
One of the solutions would be closing the Turkish border because I believe that all ISIS fighters are entering and leaving Syria through that border from countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Syrian people would never kill, and all those people fighting over there now are terrorists who came from outside the country. Things are only getting worse with all those different groups fighting now. I really do not know what is going to happen with the next few years, but I know that Syria will never be as it was before the war.
Under what circumstances would you go back?
I would go back to my country as soon as all those extremists go back to where they belong and leave Syria alone. It is not the place for terrorists.
What else do you want us to know about Syria, and about you?
A long time ago, when I used to travel, people would ask me where I was from. Of course, they never knew where Syria was and if it was even a country. I would then explain to them that it is in the Middle East and show them where Syria stands geographically. I always hoped that one day we would grow and be known by all the people around the world. Today, everybody has heard about Syria and the harsh circumstances it is going through and the children that are losing their lives everyday. Even in the news, all they talk about is Syria. Today, I would give everything to go back to the days when no one knew Syria even existed.