When I was in Baghdad, I did not care much for this proverb and sometimes I even changed it into “East or west, out is the best.” I wanted to get out of Baghdad, because I was bored with the daily routine. I wanted to travel and change my life.
Now, I wish I could change those memories of being bored in Baghdad, because I cannot return. My family and I were forced to leave Baghdad against our will, which is the most painful thing I have ever been through in my life.
When the war started, I was scared of the bombing. At the same time, I was happy because I thought I could change my lifestyle. There were rumors that a new president, a new government and new laws would allow us to get cell phones and satellite reception. I took it as a guarantee that the war would break my boring life routine. Several months later, Baghdad and its streets were destroyed. It was more like a ghost town where no stores open and no happy people talk and have a friendly chat. I hated myself for having been so selfish when I put my own interest ahead of everybody else’s interest.
The most unfortunate thing for Iraqis was when the violence started to grow. In 2006, the violence reached its highest levels in Iraq. For that reason, on a Monday in June my father chose travel to Syria. At that moment I kept saying nothing but “East or west, home is the best.” I did not want to travel for many reasons, but most of all, I didn’t want to abandon my school, home and my country. It was hard but the decision had been made, and we were going to be in Syria by Thursday morning.
In Syria, I was surprised by its people and their way of living and treating each other. There were many differences between the Iraqi and the Syrian way. I felt that Syrians were interested in other things than treating people nicely and greeting them even if they do not know each other. They were interested in things that did not interest me. Neither the way of life nor dialect was the same I was used to. They couldn’t understand my dialect, so I changed it just to be socially accepted.
I believe that this experience is the most significant and challenging phase of my life. It created a new person, character and identity and also made me more responsible and independent. I set achievable goals, and this opened my eyes to new aspects of life that had been forgotten like country, home and family.
In Baghdad, my dream was about me. But now, the experience of being a refugee washed away most of the selfishness I had before. Now I have a noble goal: developing my country and benefiting my community. Being a refugee made me think clearly about my life and future career, which is to build up my country again. My home and my country had been stolen from me. That sad fact encouraged me to be stronger and more aware about my personal and my country’s needs. My life and its obstacles made me realize that home is always the best.