Changes for the Better

Facing College: Diverse Student Voices from Michigan State University

I love that in America I have freedom and all the decisions that come with it. In Lebanon, my parents had my whole life planned out for me. Here, I choose what college I want to go to. They knew what private school they were going to send me to and they knew what college they would send me to. I had no real say in it. Now that we are here in America there are so many options and I get to choose what’s best for me!

I came to America because of the war in Lebanon in 2006. The war started only in the southern part of the country, but it eventually made its way up to Beirut where I was living. Rumors spread about the war was moving in our direction, so we decided to stay with our family friends in the north for a couple of days. Our house was eventually taken out by an airstrike and all our belongings were destroyed. A video of the airstrike aired on the news. Watching my house get destroyed was a very traumatic experience.

When we arrived in America, learning English was not too difficult because it was taught to me as a second language. The most difficult thing was trying to lose my accent. In America things were pronounced a lot differently, and I would get teased a lot at school for being a foreigner.

The hardest thing about being in America is leaving behind my 14 aunts and uncles who we can’t always visit because it costs a lot of money to go to Lebanon. Also starting our lives all over at school and with friends was very difficult.

I miss the food, the weather, old friends, aunts and uncles, and my cousins.

The war was the tipping point that made us leave Lebanon. After leaving our friends’ house, we were relocated to Syria as asylum seekers.Because my dad was an American citizen, we did not have to go through the whole refugee process. A US Navy ship picked up all the Americans who fled the war and took us to Cyprus where we eventually got on a plane to Detroit.

The closest experience I had with the war was my house being bombed, and watching it on the news knowing that all my things were destroyed and we had nowhere to go back to.

The fondest memory I have was every Friday if we behaved well at school our parents would take me and my two sisters to the store to buy whatever we wanted. I also miss all my aunts and uncles, and their kids, my cousins who we would see and play with every day.

I love America and I am really happy my family ended up here I think everything happens for a reason and I believe this is where we are meant to be!

This story originally appeared in Facing College: Diverse Student Voices, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

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