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Leaving Everything Behind

By Alaa Alothman

When it's time for you to venture out, don't let fear have you looking back at what you're leaving behind. " I remember being afraid when I left my home country of Syria behind. After all, this was the country of my birth, the country I loved. I will never forget how hard it was to run away from my country.

My immigration story started when I was 13 years old. My family had tried to get out of Syria four times. I felt like there was something that didn't want us to leave. My country was at war. We heard guns all night and bombing. We had no idea what was happening and whether we would live or die. We could not go out on the street because the army would shoot us. There were soldiers on high buildings, and they could see the entire city. We were forced to stay indoors. My father and uncle came up with a plan. They decided we would leave our house at night. I really wanted to say goodbye to my grandmother before we left. I loved her so much, and I wanted to hug her one last time. My uncle wouldn't let us see her because he explained this would make her too sad. She was very sick and having to say goodbye to her would be too difficult for her, but it was difficult for me. (When I found out that she died two years later, I felt so sad. I hadn't gotten to say my good-byes.) On the date my father and uncle had picked out, we left our house and got into a taxi. The cab driver said, "Before I pull out onto the highway I want you to know that we may die. I am going to drive as fast as I can." I felt the car flying down the highway. Soldiers began to shoot at us. After all, they did not want us to leave our country.

Luckily, we made it out of Syria and started our new lives in Jordan. This country is near my country. When we got there, I felt like I could not take breath. I cried a lot. We all cried out of sadness and happiness. Sadness because we missed our home, family, and country. Happiness because we were safe from the war. We would not hear guns anymore. After a couple of month my dad had to return to Syria because his work would fire. We were anxious about him. After three days he called us saying, "I cannot stay in Syria any longer. The army is bombing our city. Many different people have come to our home because the army has taken their homes. I am returning to Jordan tomorrow." We were sad and happy at the same time. As usual I had two feelings: happiness and sadness. That is how the immigrant's life goes.

I started to go to school with Jordanian students in the village which was far from the city of Mafraq. The school only taught children until the eighth grade. The teachers were nice and helpful to me because I was the only student not from Jordan. At the end of the school year, I wanted to keep going to school, but we would have to move to the city. My parents started looking for a house, but all of the houses were too expensive because we were refugees. The people in the city were so mean to us. When we walked down the street, they said bad words and yelled at us saying, "REFUGEES." We were not able to say anything back because they would send us to our worn-torn country. In the city, the schools were segregated. The Syrian students went to school after the Jordanian students got out of school. I only got to go to school for two hours. The teachers were very rude and hated us including the principal. I couldn't understand why they were like this. I remember the principal told me horrible things I had never heard before. I was shocked wondering how a principal and bad words could ever go together.

After all terrible things my family had endured in Jordan, we got the biggest chance in our lives to come to the United States. The American Commission began to pick families to send them out of Jordan. At first, they did not pick us. My dad went and asked them to please pick us. We waited months for their call. They finally called us and told us to start the government procedures for our move from Jordan to the United States. We spent a year completing all of the government requirements. On one morning around 8: a.m. my dad was getting ready to register me and my sister at a new school when he got a phone call from the American Commission. They said, "Start picking your stuff. In 15 days you and your family will be traveling to the United States. " We could not believe it. It was the happiest day of our lives. Finally, that sweet day in September of 2017 arrived, and we left Jordan. The first two months in the United States was really hard because of the language. Everything was different and hard, but we were safe and surrounded by peace. When I first went to school I was nervous. I thought the teachers and students would mistreat me because of my culture and religion, but I was wrong. Everyone was nicer than they had been in Jordan. The teachers were the best teachers I have ever had in my life. I started learning things I did not know. I started to learn how to speak English and how to read and write in English. I never believed that one day I would understand English words. My teachers also taught me how to be successful in my life and how I could achieve my goals. Now I am going to graduate on May 23, 2018 from high school. Then I am going to go to college to complete my education and make my family and teachers proud of me.

Life can be hard, but it can be easy and go smoothly too. In our lives, we will always lose something thinking we will never be okay after it. But on the other hand, something will come and compensate us for what we have lost in our lives. I have learned this from my own life.