Syrian refugee student Ayman Alsalloumi leaves for school and is ready to face the day.

“Being a Syrian Refugee Student Means You Have To Forget You are Syrian.”

Reflections from one student on waking up to news of another chemical weapons attack

By Musaab Balchi
Master’s Student
George Mason University

I was working on my school paper today when the chemical attack in Khan Shioun happened. I got traumatized and started to remember the chemical attack on al-Ghouta in 2013, the fear and sadness on everybody’s face in Damascus, and what may happen to my family who are still in Syria. I went to sleep wishing that when I wake up I will be able to prepare for the today’s class, but it did not work.

The hardest part about being a Syrian refugee and student is that you have to forget that you are Syrian and keep studying no matter what. But that is not possible, you just can not forget what is happening in there: it’s the place where you grew up and lived your whole life. You can not get over the fact that your family or your loved ones may be a victim of the next attack. Also, you can not separate yourself from the event, and prevent yourself from imagining the possibility being among the victims if you were in a different place at the time.

Being a Syrian student in the United States in tough because you have to deal with racism, think about your country and family, and keep your career going. Meanwhile, no serious efforts from schools to provide better accommodation for their Syrian students.

Schools need to look after their Syrian students as they have special needs because what we are going through is abnormal.

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