Mohamad Soufan, Class of 2017
My name is Mohamad Soufan. I was born and raised in Damascus (the Capital of Syria) on the 2nd of February in 1995. One of the best memories I have about my country is living in a socially connected environment, where I used to gather with my family and friends almost twice every week. I miss the streets, my neighborhood, and mostly my family. The Syrian culture is very accepting and open-minded; however, the most fascinating fact about it is the great diversity in religious beliefs that we have and the great respect they have for one another.
The US, as everyone knows, possesses one of the strongest educational systems in the world, so primarily such a country would firmly be on the top of any scholar’s list. In addition to the education side, lots of US universities have offered big scholarships to Syrian students due to the war that started in 2011. Therefore, in the summer of 2013, and after I graduated high school in Syria, my twin brother and I started applying to different schools that were offering scholarships and, thankfully, we got accepted in many of them. Although the scholarship was really massive, it still did not cover all the expenses, so my father faced this huge obstacle in financing the two of us, and as a result we were forced to defer our scholarship for one semester waiting on finance. However, my father found a less expensive university in Cyprus for me and my brother to start our college education.
After spending one semester at North East University in Cyprus, my father was able to gather enough money to send both of us to the US. Back in Syria, I had one American-Syrian friend who had a great influence on me, he guided me through the way to get to the US. He educated me about standardized tests like the SAT and English proficiency tests like the TOEFL, and as a result I formed a great image about how American people might be.
After getting accepted at UE and travelling to the US, there were around 15 Syrian students on campus, some of them whom I knew back in Syria. The campus community welcomed me very warmly and made me feel very comfortable throughout all the events they had for incoming students. It is worth mentioning that I never felt mistreated or discriminated because I was a Syrian or a foreigner.
My greatest fear of living in the US was to hear one day that a member of my family was dead or wounded and I couldn’t do anything to help or to see them. Thankfully, such a thing didn’t happen and I always pray that it doesn’t. Another source of insecurity are the thoughts that my father won’t be able to support me and my twin brother financially, which on one hand makes me feel uncomfortable but on the other hand motivates me to work even more and put totally 100% of my effort into everything I do.