A Modern-Day Middle East Dialogue By Mohammed Al Adlani From Yemen And Khisal Al Baroudi From Syria

1My name is Mohammed, I am from Yemen and, as part of the YaLa Academy’s Aileen Getty School of Citizen Journalism, I interviewed on June 7, 2016 another participant in the program – an awesome young woman from Syria. I got the impression she is suffering from a lot of pain given her difficult situation and her personal struggle to achieve her future goals. She is a brave girl and I am positive that this world is full of women just like her. I have really learned a lot from interviewing her and it was immense pleasure.

Her name is Khisal and she is a gap year student. I started by asking her about her life as a Syrian refugee and how she left her country.

Khisal replied: “Well…it started when we were in Syria. My dad was a civil engineer but since 2011 he had stopped receiving any income. We were renting a house and things became very hard. Everything became 10 times more expensive. In 2013, my dad sent both of my older sisters out of the country, one of them started working in Egypt and the other one started working in Turkey. I graduated from high school in 2014 and my family and I decided we were no longer able to live inside Syria. Everything was choking us. My dad broke the lease and we left for Turkey. We tried to move on with our lives there, but unfortunately it was impossible with low salaries and very hard working conditions. University was impossible for me unless I knew Turkish and it was very expensive to learn it. I applied for a scholarship to the AUC, the American University in Cairo, was accepted and it was the best thing ever happened to me. But unfortunately I could not get a visa to Egypt because I was a Syrian. So the scholarship was gone and so was my dream. With this no longer being an option, I decided to go to Europe. It took me a tough month to make it, but I got here eventually. The sad thing was that my parents had to go through that too, but thank God, they got here within 7 days, so it was much easier.”

Then I asked her: “Were you accepted in any university in Europe?”

Khisal replied: “I can’t go to university yet. I’m an asylum seeker, so I need to have the residency papers before I go to university. It takes a while.”

Me: “I don’t know what to say. But do you know what? I believe that you are such a brave girl and I’m sure that you will not give up on your dream easily. And I am positive that you will get better opportunities in the future because Allah doesn’t forget someone who always seeks future goals without giving up. And just be aware that this is life.”

Khisal: “Thank you so much ❤❤. I appreciate the support.”

Me: I thought first that Yemeni students who always suffer so much. But it seems that we aren’t the only ones.

Khisal: “Hahahaha, we share the pain.”

After that, I asked her about her dreams.

She replied: “Okay… so since I was 12 years old I’ve wanted to study political science. People told me I was going to change my mind a lot. But I never did . My goal is to make my family and my people proud. And maybe after I die, people are going to remember me for my good deeds for Syria and the region. I want to work more on the humanitarian side of politics.

Then she asked me if I have the same goal. I replied that I we share exactly the same aim, which is helping our community, but I want to be a local council member.”

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