Nafea’ Sukkar, Class of 2018
What are your best memories about being born and raised in Syria?
Walking around the old city, hanging out with family and friends all around the country, having the best food in the world.
What do you miss the most?
Food, family, friends, Damascus city, my house
What about Syrian culture makes you most proud?
Karma, honesty, hardworking, kindness, generosity
Why did you chose to come to the US to study?
To get a good education and get job experience
What challenges did you face while traveling here?
Cultural differences at the beginning, weather, the high prices compared to Syria
What were your preconceived notions about Americans before you came here and how have they changed?
I thought that all the people in the USA were educated and know the outside world and that they know other cultures well. But when I came here, I saw that only a small percentage of them have that knowledge but the rest know nothing about other cultures or even other countries outside the USA. At least that’s what I saw here in Evansville.
How does it feel to be a Syrian student at UE in 2016?
It feels way better than before because a lot of students know more about the Syrian crisis than before. That’s because of the presentations and the I-Houses that have been going on for the past 3 years. Also, we are more than 20 Syrians now and each one of us has different friends, so more people know Syrians than before.
Have you experienced any positive or negative feedback here on campus or in Evansville?
I feel happy because everybody on campus knows that Syrians have a good reputation which we are glad to hear from people. Personally, all my colleagues and managers at my past internship gave me the best positive feedback I could ask for.
What are the scariest, greatest, and most difficult things about living in the U.S.?
Make 100% sure that you are not breaking any law, no matter how small your mistake is. Always track your financials because a lot of fraud happens here. Always be prepared for the weather. Be very careful about driving here.
Can you tell us about a life changing experience that happened to you in the U.S.?
When I had my internship this past summer, it was the first time I was actually working at a professional job. I felt that I had a big responsibility on my shoulders, but I also felt very happy that I was actually doing something and helping the customers and the company. I had never felt that I was that productive before. When I finished my internship in August and I was asked by my manager to keep working in the fall semester part time, I was extremely happy as well. That meant one thing to me: that I did a great job and the company wanted me to stay.
Can you tell us about a life changing experience that happened to you in Syria?
In 2010, I was in a summer camp with a lot of my friends. At the end of the camp, we went and helped families in a very poor area. It was about an hour outside Damascus. I was 14 years old at that time and I had never realized that there were people actually dying from hunger and cold, especially because I lived in a place where there are no poor families, so I didn’t have the chance before to see them and help them. On that day we helped with food, money, games for the kids, and a lot of clothes since they didn’t have any. Since then, I always think of poor people. I give charities money every other week for poor people, even if it isn’t that much, but every little thing helps.
Does your family still live in Syria? If they could speak in this forum, what would they say to us?
Yes, they still live there. They would say be safe here in the USA and be productive as much as you can so you will go back in the future and rebuild Syria and help make it better than it was before. Always think about the people in Syria and how you can help them.
What words come to mind when you think about Syria’s civil war?
God bless Syria. It is getting more and more complicated every day and nobody knows when it is going to end. I feel very bad because of the people dying and losing their houses and everything they have.
In your opinion, what is the solution to the current political crisis and where do you see Syria ten years from now?
Honestly, I don’t know what the best solution would be since I am not a political science major, but I think it is not going to end with war because a lot of countries are involved now and many terrorist groups have taken advantage of the war and have entered Syria. So the best way, in my opinion, is to make all the countries and foreigners leave Syria right away through a decision made by the UN so everybody will have to respond. Then have elections through the UN and send everybody responsible for the death of millions and the damage in Syria to jail and have them face international court. I hope that will happen one day in ten years. Other than that, nobody knows where Syria is going and how it is going to end.
Under what circumstances would you go back?
I would go back if this brutal regime dies or leaves the country. Especially in my case, all the young men between 18 and 40 are being drafted into the military to fight in the Syrian army. So it is very dangerous anyway for us to go back now.
What else do you want us to know about Syria, and about you?
My name is Nafea’ Sukkar and I am a sophomore at the University of Evansville studying accounting and finance. I want you to know that Syria was one of the best countries in the world. It was very peaceful. We used to have a lot of tourists visiting the historic places. You will see amazing natural beauty wherever you go. Syria is one of the cheapest countries in the world and we have very delicious food. The people are very friendly and helpful.