Go Home? a young man’ story between America and Syria.
In the MAS Tarbiya and Ilm Camp, a young brother shared his life story with us. He was in 5th grade when 9.11 happened. He was in public school. His parents had emigrated 15 years ago from Syria. He did not know how to interpret 9.11. It was shown all over television in his elementary school the day it happened. He had very good friends in public school. Every day in recess he would play basketball with his friends. A few days after 9.11 his mother bought him some new cloth. He was so happy that he was wearing new cloth to school the next day. But when he went to school (2 days after 9/11), no one would speak to him in class. In recess, he went to play basketball with his friends as usual. But no one would play with him. He was not sure why this was happening. He never mentioned that he was a Muslim to anyone. So he started to play alone. A few minutes later about 10 guys ganged on him, his previous friends, and “jumped him”, or beat him up very bad. He went home crying with blood all over his torn new cloth.
A few months later, his parents decided to take the kids and go back to Syria. He had never lived in Syria. His father put him in a public school in Syria. His Arabic was very weak. His friends in school asked him: “where are you from?” He said, “I am from America”. So again, he got beat up pretty hard by his new “friends”. When he walks in school, people would shout: “down with America!”. He got in nasty fights every day.
He spent his time in Syria dreaming of coming back home to America. After less than a year, his father, a US-citizen, decided to take the family back to the USA, not being able to fit well in Syria. At the airport in Syria, they realized that his mother’s green card had expired. They had to cancel the trip. For the next year, every week, the family drove 6 hours to the US embassy in order to renew the green card. Nothing worked. Four years later, the green card was finally renewed by Immigration. They were finally able to come back home to America. He was so happy. But a few months after arriving to the US, he felt that he missed living in Syria.
The story hits a cord with some of the immigrant families in the US – especially with the 2nd generation. America is their home, but it is suspicious of them – almost un-welcoming. When they go back to their parents’ homeland, they cannot fit there either. It is a difficult to say the least.
It is debatable whether the 1st generation immigrants will fit if they “go back home”. It is inconceivable that the 2nd generation would be thinking of staying anywhere but to stay home, in America. America is our beautiful land that we cherish and love. Even some question our relation to America, it should be 100% clear to us: America is home. America is our people. America is where, as American Muslims, we will focus our energy to advocate for goodness and justice, and advocate for change. This is not only our right, but, more importantly, America’s right upon us.