interview with two Syrians

The War In Syria As Told By Two Courageous Syrians

From jasmine scented streets to war torn homes and cities.

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Since 2011 Syria has been engulfed in a civil war. News programs covering the war have depicted images of buildings turned to rubble and lives torn to shreds. Television screens across the world have shown the bombings of cities and the burning of towns. Most have seen the struggle and the violence from the perspective of onlookers, but not from the perspective of those personally affected.

The following text is an interview with two individuals who both call Syria home. For their safety and the safety of their families, the names of the two individuals have been expunged, but their responses are their words, and their words are their story.

What do you remember about Syria before the war?

Individual A: I remember pure joy. Every time you would step outside you would see the friendliest people. I remember the smell of jasmine so vividly; the atmosphere was so calm. I would have never guessed that what felt like the happiest place in the world would turn into what it is today.

Individual B: The details that made Syria my home have been imprinted in my mind ever since the day I left. The narrow streets, the scent of the jasmine flowers at every corner, and the lights of the city on top of Qasion Mountain have all become part of me. To me, it is not about remembering. How can I remember something I had never forgotten in the first place?

When did you leave Syria and why?

Individual A: I lived there for several years, the last time I was there was 2009. My father's job required my family to move around the world, which is why we had to leave. If it weren't for his job we would probably still be living in Syria.

Individual B: I was born and raised in Syria. In 2012, my parents and I had to leave for our safety. The Syrian Regime's violence had escalated and we had to leave everything behind.

What can you remember about the first time you heard about the war?

Individual A: I will never forget this day: March 2011. I remember I was sitting on my knees, and we had a substitute teacher in school that day. He spent the last few minutes of class discussing world events, and he concluded with, "And now there's some trouble stirring up in Syria." I turned to my friend and was like, "What did he say? That's my home."

Individual B: One day after school, my parents told me that they were shopping in Souq Al Hamidieh when people began chanting for freedom. I couldn't believe the Syrian people had decided to protest a regime that has stolen people's simplest human rights. I felt like it was a rebirth for my country. Truly, an Arab spring.

What is it like when you hear about Syria on the news today?

Individual A: It honestly doesn't feel real. I know that Syria is not the same today as I remember it, I just can't wrap my mind around how what felt like the safest place on Earth turned into the biggest humanitarian crisis.

Individual B: A bittersweet feeling runs within my bones. Syria has been and will always be my home, and seeing my own people suffer and my home getting destroyed is a pain that will never fade.

What does the word "refugee" mean to you?

Individual A: Human. They are just looking for peace, and most of the time people treat them like aliens as if they haven't already gone through enough hell to reach this point.

Individual B: To me, the word refugee means bravery and determination. Every day they continue striving to achieve their goals despite the pain they endured.

What do you hope for the future of Syria?

Individual A: I hope peace, the smell of jasmines, and the sound of laughter will return. Just like how I remember it.

Individual B: I hope for a country where everyone will be able to speak out, and where no one is afraid of oppression. A country in which freedom will flourish.

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How To Stop Being The Toxic Person That You Would Normally Cut Out Of Your Own Life

It's so much easier to pin a problem on someone else than it is to look deep within yourself and take responsibility for the things that you've done. But that's all part of growing up.

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I'm sure you've heard it before...

"Cut someone out of your life if they negatively impact your mental health."

"You need to cut off friends, family, anyone that is bad for you and your future."

"You will be so much better off once _____ is gone from your life."

At this point in your life, you've probably cut off one or more people who you believed weren't good for you. You were prioritizing yourself, and that meant letting go of someone, regardless of the memories, bond, and love that you had for them. It was probably difficult, but somewhere down the line, you knew that you did what was best for you. And you stood by that decision.

But how many times have you been the problem?

How many times have you sat down and took the time to analyze a situation, only to come to the conclusion that YOU'RE the one that's messing up? And that if you changed x, y, and z, you could save or help your relationship with your friend, family member, or significant other.

Probably not very often.

It's so much easier to pin a problem on someone else than it is to look deep within yourself and take responsibility for the things that you've done. But that's all part of growing up. At some point, I hope you realize that you weren't so perfect either, after all. And when you do, this is what I want you to think about:

We all go through different phases of our lives, and it's okay to understand and acknowledge that this phase doesn't represent the best version of yourself. Character development isn't a strict upward slope, where you start off being a shitty, underdeveloped, immature person, but then progress into being an angel. There are going to be ups and downs. There are going to be moments where you're really disappointed in yourself, and can't believe that you let yourself slip up to that degree. We all have flaws, we all make mistakes. But also all have so much potential.

As long as you're willing to put in the effort to change (because everyone around you deserves that), then you're on the right track. And I'm proud of you for having the emotional maturity to self reflect and be better. That's the first step.

And the next step is going to involve putting everything you're saying into practice. I can't promise you that it's going to be easy. And I can't promise you that you're going to drastically permanently change overnight. If I did, I would be lying. But what I can promise you is that everything you're going to do will be worth it in the long run. I hope that's enough of a reason to dig deep for a new you.

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You Know You're From Trumbull, CT When...

The best memories are made in this boring, little, Connecticut town.

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1. The majority of places you will consider to eat at are in Fairfield or Westport... Colony, Shake Shack, Country Cow, Playa Bowls, BarTaco

2. But if you find yourself too lazy to get on 95 for food, Panchero's is the go-to... never Chipotle. If it is past midnight, the choice always comes down to the McDonalds in Monroe, where you are almost guaranteed to see a group of people you know, or Merritt Canteen.

3. Once you got your license, your Friday night plans consisted of picking up friends, driving up and down Main Street, and, somehow, always finding yourself at the THS parking lot seeing who's car is there because there is nothing better to do.

4. In the Fall, you couldn't wait for Friday so that after school you and half of your grade could walk to Plasko's Farm for ice cream and apple cider donuts... and hope you could get them before the owners would yell at you to leave. (This one only applies to Hillcrest Middle School kids, AKA the inferior middle school in town).

5. You couldn't wait to be a senior so you could officially lead the BLACK HOLE at football games... if you were even willing to go in the cold.

6. You looked forward to the annual Senior Scav, the last week of summer before your senior year where a list of tasks is passed down by the recently graduated class... the official kickoff to senior year.

7. You pass by Country Club Rd. and get flashbacks from the worst Cross Country practices ever. Driving up Daniels Farm Rd. in the Fall and Spring, you are conditioned to yell "hi" out the window to your friends at practice.

8. You knew someone who worked at Gene's gas station... and found yourself spending more time there on the weekends than you would like to admit.

9. You are convinced Melon-heads are real after frequenting Velvet St. to see the abandoned insane asylum with your friends, IF you didn't want to drive all the way up to Fairfield Hills in Newtown.

10. You have had/have been to at least one middle school birthday party at the Trumbull Marriott.

11. You know that the 25mph speed limit on Whitney Ave. is way too slow... and can't help but hit a little air going down the huge hill at the top.

12. The guy at Towne likely knows your name.

13. You never find yourself turning right out of THS... that side of town is irrelevant for those who do not live there.

14. You know to avoid the Merrit Parkway from 4:00-7:00pm at all costs.

15. You know more than you would like to about people you aren't even friends with... in a town so small, things get around very quick.

16. Going shopping really means going to Target, or any store in the mall, for the millionth time that week.

17. The marching band was the best in the state and you would see them practicing, literally, every time you drove by THS.

19. Depending on the side of town you lived, you spent a lot of time at Five Pennies Park or Indian Ledge Park.

20. You would say you couldn't wait to leave, but when you got to college, you find yourself excited to come back to your hometown so you can reminisce on old traditions and make new memories.

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