Syrian Female

Transcript of Syrian Female*
Interviewer: Christina Xiques
* (Interviewee prefers to keep name. voice, and image confidential)
Place: Edgewater Historical Society, 5358 N Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL
Transcriber: Christina Xiques
Date: February 22, 2014
Total Time: 27 minutes

Copyright © 2014 Edgewater Historical Society

CX: Can you tell me what is your country of origin?

SF: Syria

CX: Did you grow up in a city or in the country?

SF: In a city, Damascus.

CX: Were you born in the country?

SF: No, I was born in the city.

CS: Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood and life in Syria?

SF: I have a huge family; I spent all my childhood with my aunts, uncles. I studied in Damascus, and finish my high school there, and then I went to Damascus University. So I never worked before in my country. We depend on my dad, because this is our culture. We start our life work when we finish university.

CX: Can you tell me more about your life in Syria?

SF: Well, I can use my religion life - like go to church - like go out whenever. Because we had peace there before 2 years. I have really huge friends, university, neighbors, school where I spent a lot of time with them. I have a lot of cousins. We hang out together every now and then. It was a peaceful life, full of activity. I was a member of the Red Crescent. Every week me and my friend went to nursing homes just to take care of some old people. They don’t have anyone.

CX: How did you come to Edgewater?

SF: Well I came here to attend my friend’s wedding because I was the bridesmaid. I got stuck here because when I decided to go back to my country, the airports there were closed. Then my parents didn’t want me to go back because it was really dangerous. I lost a lot of my friends. They [parents] preferred that I stay here.

CX: What was the process involved? Did you apply for a visa in Syria to come here?

SF: Not really. But because we don’t have an American embassy in Syria, we had to go to Lebanon or Jordan to apply for a visa. The only thing was that it was dangerous driving to those countries by land.

CX: And then what happened?

SF: Well when I came here as a brides maid and visitor, sure, I spent a really good great time. Then when I had to stay here, I had to start from zero. So I had to start my college from the beginning. It was hard because it was a new language, new culture, and I’m here by myself. So I had to work. And I never had the experience because I had never worked before.

CX: Um hm…..

SF: The good things that America gave us the experience to depend on yourself. Maybe it will give us good chances to build our future.

CX: How do you feel about being in the United States now?

SF: It’s really hard to explain. We can’t always tell our feelings. No matter how good life is here, it is always difficult to leave our family and homeland behind. It’s sad, but I try to keep smiling all the time.

CX: When did you come here?

SF: Five months ago.

CX: Did anyone help you once you came here?

SF: I was going to the church in Edgewater because it was close to my work and then I met the great American people there. They helped me after that. I also liked the area here.

CX: Do you feel at home in Edgewater?

SF: I feel it’s a really nice area, but it will never be like my home. I like the area. We have everything around. We have nice neighbors, nice people.

CX: Can you tell me a little more?

SF: I really like the church here; especially the people are really nice with me. Since that they started praying for Syria every Sunday service.

CX: Had they done that before?

SF: No, until now no.

CX: What about other people in Edgewater?

SF: Well they are really nice especially in my neighborhood when I walk every day. I have good experience with my neighbors.

CS: Can you tell me more about your life in Edgewater?

SF: I left my old job because it was really bad and I found a better one here in Edgewater, and I started to go to the college. Since I moved here my life has been more organized.

CX: Are you an organized person?

SF: Not really. I’m not really good but I try my best to be.

CX: Have you gotten involved in any Edgewater activities?

SF: Now until now no. But I would like to get involved.

CX: What skills do you think you might share with others?

SF: As a worker, I’m a really hard worker. I have a really good relationship with my manager. She is really happy that she has someone like me on her team. I have good relationships with my team workers.

CX: Do you think any other members of your family would like to immigrate to the United States?

SF: No they don’t want to leave, except for my brother who wants to come.

CX: So would you call yourself an American, or a Syrian, or a bit of both?

SF: I identify myself as a Syrian.

CX: Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.