In episode 9 of Mn Huna: Finding Refuge in Friendship, Houda introduces you to another resident of Tucson’s Small Syria: her neighbor and classmate, Mohammad. Mohammad, his older sister, younger brother, and parents fled Damascus when Mohammad was eleven years old. His father worked for the government, so they feared for his life. As fighting and tanks moved into their neighborhood, they fled—all five of them on his father’s motorcycle. They paid smugglers to guide them on foot across the border into Jordan, where they spent a month in Zaatari refugee camp during deep winter.
Mohammad is fifteen years old now. And in this episode, he shares his family’s story with a fluency and ease that masks how recent English—and America—is to him. His family has lived in Tucson for just about a year.
For a recent English language learner showcase at their school, Mohammad, his sister Rahaf, and Houda all wrote personal narratives, which they made into posters and read at the showcase. Mohammad’s narrative is below. Rahaf’s narrative and poster are at the bottom of the page.
“I am Mohammad
I wonder why they are fighting around the world
I hear news about my country and my family
I see my new life in my eyes but how can I get it?
I want to stop the war
I pretend that I am a man but I am just a young boy
I feel bad and good: Good is I am in a good country but the bad is how can I learn everything
I touch freedom in my new life
I worry about my relatives in Syria
I cry when I talk to my dad’s parents on the phone
I understand we are in a new country and we have to follow the rules
I am always running to my goals
I say we have to be strong about everything even if it is bad
I dream to be a computer engineer
I try to graduate and achieve my dreams
I hope to have my whole life with my family
I need to speak English fast to help my parents and get my dreams
I am the boy who left his country and doesn’t know about war or why you go to another country to be safe but the people in Jordan didn’t like the people from your country
I am Mohammad”
محمد/Mohammad: من هنا:عثرنا على الملجئ الدافئ
Houda/هدى: From here, we have found a warm refuge.