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Story of Heval

Syria (Kurdish)

I am Kurd from Syria part. My mother is from Qamishli, and my father is from Kobane. He was a lawyer in Syria, and because of political oppression against him, it was not safe for us to stay. They tortured my father and beat my mother. I was 11 years old. We left Syria and ended up in Germany as refugees. Over the next six years, we lived in refugee camps waiting for the acceptance of our asylum status. I was in the highest level of secondary school in Germany, but I was told that I would not be able to attend college because of my status.

We applied to the U.S. for refugee status. After two years of vetting, we arrived two weeks after the 9/11 tragedy. We did not know anyone in the U.S., and none of us spoke any English. When we arrived, I was 18 years old and in my final year of high school. As refugees in America, you only receive three months of government assistance. During this challenging time, my mother struggled to find a job, my father suffered from a heart attack, and I was too young to work.

As an 18-year-old refugee found a job at a restaurant. I washed dishes 30-40 hours a week after school and on the weekends. I continued to wash dishes to support myself throughout high school and college. Finally, after years of hard work, I was accepted into Morehouse School of Medicine to pursue my medical education and eventually started my internal medicine residency at Emory University. My residency was only one block from the restaurant where I washed dishes for many years. Ten years after arriving in the U.S., I started training as a doctor at the university across from this same restaurant.

Today, I am finishing my fellowship in cardiology, and my brother Mohamed is finishing his training in general surgery.

Written by Rethinking Refugees

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Story of Heval
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