Nasib AlHaffar, Class of 2017
What are your best memories about being born and raised in Syria?
My favorite memory is when the whole family got together for lunch on the weekends. We would take a trip to the mountains and it was always a great time.
What do you miss the most?
I miss my family, friends, and the food of course.
What about Syrian culture makes you most proud?
I love how caring and compassionate people are. People always do their best to make other people feel better, whether it is by offering help when needed, or even a smile to a stranger.
Why did you choose to come to the US to study?
I wanted to get my degree in a stable environment where I can put it to good use, and hopefully help my country in the healing process.
What challenges did you face while traveling here?
Cultural differences, having to make new friends, adjusting to living by myself without the help of my family.
What were your preconceived notions about Americans before you came here and how have they changed?
I expected the people to be more self-centered, more caught up with their own lives and careers.
How does it feel to be a Syrian student at UE in 2016?
I am very proud of all the amazing achievements that the Syrian students were able to make in such a short period of time. I am proud of being part of such a hardworking, passionate, and responsible group of guys and girls.
Have you experienced any positive or negative feedback here on campus or in Evansville?
I have experienced nothing but positive feedback from the Evansville community. The campus community keeps giving us encouragement and support, and always offers us help when needed. The people outside of campus are always interested in hearing about our problems and what we aspire to achieve.
What are the scariest, greatest, and most difficult things about living in the U.S.?
The scariest thing would be the future. I personally am pursuing a career in the U.S for a period of time at least, and looking at the unemployment rate, and all the challenges that engineers from outside of the U.S face in finding a job that lines up with their background and goals scares me.
The greatest thing is the professionalism that I saw in the workplace. Having received the chance to work at a global engineering company, I got to experience what makes this country the land of opportunity; the drive that professionals have to achieve their goals is very impressive.
The most difficult thing about living in the U.S as a Syrian is dealing with the stereotypes that follow Syrians, which mostly relate us to ISIS. Having to explain the situation to people that make the wrong assumptions is very disturbing.
Can you tell us about a life changing experience that happened to you in the U.S.?
Getting the chance to work for Haier America has been a life-changing experience. It taught me how to present myself as a professional, alongside all the technical expertise that I got to learn from working under world-class engineers.
Can you tell us about a life changing experience that happened to you in Syria?
The crisis that Syria is facing is probably the biggest life-changing experience that any person from my generation has ever faced.
Does your family still live in Syria? If they could speak in this forum, what would they say to us?
My family does still live in Syria. If they could speak in this forum, they would thank the amazing Evansville community for all the love and support that we received, and would encourage the Syrian students to keep pushing themselves to achieve their full potential.
What words come to mind when you think about Syria’s civil war?
The Syrian civil war is the biggest humanitarian crisis our generation has ever witnessed. I would like to say that all the violence that was born in this war does not reflect how we lived in Syria.
In your opinion, what is the solution to the current political crisis and where do you see Syria ten years from now?
The only solution is in the hands of the Syrian people themselves. The war will end when all the stakeholders in this war realize that they are fighting against their brothers, neighbors, classmates, etc. Violence never was and never will be the solution.
Under what circumstances would you go back?
I would go back when it is safe for me and my family to go about our lives the way we used to before the war started. I will go back when people replace the hate and fear that they live in with love and compassion.
What else do you want us to know about Syria, and about you?
Syria is one of the greatest countries in the world, in my mind at least. I had an amazing childhood there that I would not replace with anything. I encourage everyone to learn more about the real Syria, before the war started.