When American teenagers think of moving they think of relocating to a big city,across state lines, or maybe from coast to coast. Rarely do they think of someone moving from one country to another. Usually a move like that is the result of a student’s parents needing to move for work related reasons.
Seaholm freshman, Sharba, moved from Syria to the United States as a refugee searching for freedom and perhaps to save her life. Sharba was born and raised in Syria, but with the country’s civil war raging and no peaceful solution in sight, her family sought a new life in America. Sharba moved to Michigan from Syria last year, attending Derby Middle School for eighth grade.
“I was excited to move to the U.S., but I feared for my friends who I went to school with for so long,” Leen Sharba said.
Sharba was relieved when she heard that her best friend, Dana Al-Haj from Syria has recently found refuge in Germany. Al-Haj recalls how her life changed when Sharba and her family told them that they would be traveling for a few months when in reality Sharba and her family “would be gone forever.”
Al-Haj remembered her in almost everything she did.
‘’I missed Leen’s hugs and studying with her for quizzes together.” Al-Haj said.
Sharba believed that America was just as it was portrayed in movies she saw in Syria. Since living in America for a year, her perspective has changed.
“America is not the country I thought it was,” Sharba said. “There are people being treated badly everywhere.’’
Despite her observations of America, Sharba and her family feel safe now that they are in the United States. Sharba never felt unsafe in Syria until the recent unrest.
Her mother Amal Idrees, a medical doctor who worked for a pharmaceutical company, seemed upset to leave her homeland.
“My kids were in the best schools and once the war started everything changed,” Idrees said. “We were forced to leave everyone we loved and had to start over from zero.”
Sharba has been surprised of the events that have taken place.
“I never thought something like this would happen. I was surprised because a lot of people misunderstand what’s happening and it’s not because I am Syrian,” Sharba said. “I never thought this would happen to the Syrian people. I mean, even when it started, people always had hope. Everyone was okay and just living.’’
Sharba recalls that the situation escalated during the last year she spent in Syria. She described hearing gunshots and bombs going off near her house, and seeing looped videos of explosions from the night before on the local TV news.
‘‘I couldn’t sleep alone,” Sharba said. “I was so scared.’’
Leen’s father Alarm Sharba had to make the difficult decision to leave their homeland.
“We sacrificed a lot in able for our kids to have a good life,” Alarm said. “It was really difficult for us, but we did it for our kids and we are still trying.”
Sharba had never thought badly of President Assad, Syria’s leader before the weapons attack, though she admitted he has mishandled some things and was responsible for some of the problems facing the people.
“Americans don’t fully understand the crisis in Syria,” Sharba said. “It is a complex situation and outside organizations and influences are also at fault and are heavily involved.”
However Americans are not the only ones who do not fully comprehend the situation.
“You have to understand. In Syria, some people believe the propaganda,” Sharba said. “They don’t know better. Conspiracies sometimes are taken as fact.”
Overall Sharba remains anxious about the Syrian crisis.
“The situation is bad. If the U.S becomes involved, it will escalate and get worse.’’
Despite recent tensions between the U.S and Syria, Sharba hopes for a nonviolent solution.
“If the U.S gets its way, a lot more people will die. I don’t want to see anyone else die,” Sharba said.”We have had enough violence in a once peaceful country.”