Top of page

Before everything changed

By Susan Gitenstein Assadi


Before everything changed, I was living in a beautiful house with my parents and four sibling.  

By Souzan Brimo

The day was March 24, 2013, I woke up to a bomb. A helicopter hovered over the houses, artillery tanks were firing in. We couldn’t sleep that night. The fear of dying was too strong. My parents made the decision - the kids should not go to school. The fear of a bombing or being kidnapped was always first concern. After the first few attacks, we learned helping our fellow man wasn’t an option. Those whose houses and business were being bombed had to fend for themselves.The people who did go outside to help the victims were caught in a second round of explosions, often got injured or killed themselves.  After the war started, the electricity was shut off. At night, we were not allowed to light candles because to avoid getting caught because they would kill us. So, we kept quiet in the dark. In a week, we ran out of food. All that was left was old, dry bread that we had saved for bird food and the rice that we had on hand. We struggled until we abandoned our home to live with our grandmother and 4 uncles’ families in another town along in the 3-bedroom house for 3 months. It was tight, but we were safe.


After the 3 months, my family decided to move to Turkey to find work. Because we didn’t have passports we could not cross. We begged the officers because if we went back to Syria, we would be captured, tortured, and killed. The Turkish military had a heart… back then anyways. They let us all in in secret. We escaped death once again. We were lucky.


Once we got into Turkey, we were out of school because we could not afford it; we went to work.


After a year living in Turkey my dad got a call. the call that changed my life. After a year and many interviews, we were approved to come to the United States on April 28, 2016.  


Before I came to America I heard a lot about it. Some people told me that in America there is a lot of racism. I was thinking how i’m going to learn a new language and how i’m going to understand people. I was so scared to start a new life again, to move to a different country and culture. But after i came here i knew that the people here are so nice; it’s not that difficult to learn a new language. I’m very happy and glad to be in here today. The United State is a great country because I am living with my family in peace. I attend school for free and study everyday. That’s all i need. I am so grateful to live in America now.

Susan thumbnail
Susan Gitenstein Assadi