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Immigration. While I definitely believe that people should have the right to relocate to different countries if they need/wish to, I also often find myself wondering if it’s worth it in the long run.

Is it really worth it to be separated from family, friends and relatives?

Is it worth the language barrier and the feeling of being half in one world and half in the other trying to balance it all out, while still trying to figure life out at the same time?

Is my life really that much better than it would’ve been if my parents had remained in Iraq? These aren’t just questions for me, they apply to the millions that have fled their home countries in search of “better lives” and I fear that it’s not any better for some of them.

A little over a year ago I volunteered to translate for a group of refugees in Germany, and as heart warming as the experience was, there was one particular incident that really made me question whether leaving Syria and Iraq was the best decision for these individuals and families to make. I was translating to a Syrian boy no older than 19, explaining to him that he can not move out of the city that he’s registered in.

He complained because this would mean he would have to stay in the refugee camp until they could find housing for him, which was nearly impossible since this particular city was packed with refugees and not enough housing to accommodate them all. Not now or anytime soon; it would take years.

What really got to me though, wasn’t the housing situation, it was this little boy who was thrown into this foreign country “seeking a better perhaps” with no family, no way back, and no one to support him. There was no one to guide him or look after him or care about him. He thanked me after we left the building and hopped on his worn bike and pedaled away to wherever it is that forlorn boys go in Germany.

And maybe if he hadn’t been so young, his aura that of a child’s, and still so naive to the world, then maybe it wouldn’t have made me think this, but it did. His chance here isn’t any better than it would’ve been in Syria; just different forms of broken. One in the shape of broken buildings and homes and brick, the other shaped like something that will keep looking for itself and never quite find it.

In many ways, this is how I oftentimes feel. Neither this nor that. Neither understood by this group or that. I am the unwanted Arab Muslim in America, and I am the foreign American in Iraq.

The worst part, is that it’s true. I really am not American. And I really am not Iraqi. I’m both and I’m torn between the politics of the two whether I like it or not.

And that’s why sometimes, I find myself envying those who’s lives have been lived within the same city walls of where they were born. A city witnessing their life from birth to death, home to every moment they lived; entitling them to truly call it home. I will never have that nor will I ever be able to have that.





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