Nour AlSirafi, Class of 2017
What are your best memories about being born and raised in Syria?
Being born in Damascus, the capital city in Syria, has always been something special for me, the picture of that beautiful ancient city has never left my mind. The narrow streets, old historic buildings, and water fountains are among the best memories I enjoy.
What do you miss the most?
I miss a lot of things, actually, everything was just perfect before the war. I miss my dad, the family, the friends, I miss the Syrian food, and I also miss the jasmine, which is considered the symbol of Damascus.
What about Syrian culture makes you most proud?
Generosity, of course. Syrians are known to have a high level of hospitality towards guests and those who need our help. Also the ideology of hardwork and learning new things is something that makes me proud of being Syrian.
Why did you choose to come to the US to study?
The war has had a huge impact our lives; however, I’ve always wanted to study in the U.S to gain the experience and the opportunity to do research and grow in a high scientific milieu.
What challenges did you face while traveling here?
I have faced a lot of challenges, most of them were so depressing and mentally exhausting.
The two most difficult were getting a passport that would allow me to travel abroad, and getting a U.S visa which sadly has been become almost impossible for Syrians.
What were your preconceived notions about Americans before you came here and how have they changed?
I had many positive ideas, and most of them were actually true. I had always heard that Americans are kind, friendly, smart, and diligent. However, I thought American society had overcome racism and bigotry, and that people treat others equally regardless of their race, skin color, and religion. However, I now realize that this not completely true.
How does it feel to be a Syrian student at UE in 2016?
It actually feels great! UE is such a nice place with many great professors, staff, nice students, and a beautiful campus.
What are the scariest, greatest, and most difficult things about living in the U.S.?
For me, nothing was really scary or concerning. I’m used to living abroad, away from family, so nothing makes me afraid. However, there are a lot of difficulties and the key to overcoming these obstacles is getting involved in the community and being an efficient part of it.
Can you tell us about a life changing experience that happened to you in the U.S.?
Nothing has happened yet, but I have some vital upcoming events in the summer.
Let’s see what’s going to happen!
Can you tell us about a life changing experience that happened to you in Syria?
The most recent one was the reason why I left Syria. A group of armed soldiers had arrested many friends of mine when we were leaving our school. That’s why my parents decided to send me to Jordan to continue my life safely and to complete my studies.
Does your family still live in Syria? If they could speak in this forum, what would they say to us?
Most of my mom’s side of the family are over there, and some of my dad’s side. I can’t really imagine what they would say, but I am sure that they are not happy with what is going on in Syria and how the international community is dealing with that crisis.
What words come to mind when you think about Syria’s civil war?
Injustice, destruction, and pain.
In your opinion, what is the solution to the current political crisis and where do you see Syria ten years from now?
I don’t actually see any solution, and in the meantime the situation is very complicated and unpredictable. However, I pray every single day hoping for the war to stop and all Syrians come to peace again.
Under what circumstances would you go back?
If the war ends, I would be the first person to go back there.
What else do you want us to know about Syria, and about you?
I just want to say that Syria has always been a real heaven but sadly, war can ruin any beautiful spot on this earth.