I am working hard to finish my studies and then have a job, I will either succeed or succeed here because there are no other options.
Well, I am Ahid, I was born in a small village in Swaida, Syria. I remember myself as a good student with a lot of funny stories from my childhood, snowball battles with all the village, me and my uncles dancing the crazy Syrian Dabke, school trips, and much more. I liked technology, and I was one of the first in my village to get a computer, then I found myself disassembling and reassembling it again and again (luckily, it managed somehow to stay alive until now). By the age of 15, I was the computer technical guy of the village and then the same story occurred with my first Toshiba laptop. I also liked traveling and interacting with other cultures, and I still remember that noisy sound while I was connecting to that lazy slow internet in order to enter one of Yahoo chatting rooms trying to make friends abroad. I also remember hanging around the narrow streets of the old city of Damascus searching for tourists, (when there were tourists there) inviting them for shawarma or ice cream or to be their tour guide later, as a trick for improving my English.
After finishing high school, I started my career in applied mathematics, only to discover later that nothing of what I was learning was applicable. The curriculums there were from the seventies. So, I wanted to study abroad but I was not that rich guy, and with the Syrian Civil War, a visa was something that I could get just in my dreams. So, I continued my university there as it was the only way for extending the deadline for joining the army, and after graduation, I escaped the country with some magical word written in a paper, “This would protect you on your way” from my mom.
I felt relieved after crossing the last Syrian checkpoint, only to find myself stuck between Syrian and Lebanese borders without a visa to enter Lebanon. I spent the night sleeping on the street and I was lucky to get my permission for entering Lebanon the next morning, but my luck evaporated when I heard that Lebanese police officer telling me, “Ok, you just have to go back to check-point again on the Syrian side because you have checked-out there yesterday.” He did not know that if I went back there, they would not send me back to him, but they would send me directly to the army. I felt that it was the end. I decided to try again but with another officer, who was in a rush because of too many people in front of his desk. I crossed my fingers, hoping he will not notice the date while checking my permission and I felt the adrenaline filling my veins when I saw him stamp my passport and returning it back to me.
I wanted Lebanon to be my station on my journey to reach Europe, unfortunately, I spent two years waiting for my flight at this station. The situation there was bad, very bad, especially for Syrians. That small country with 3 million citizens was hosting more than one million Syrian refugees, add to that, their racism against us as a result of the previous Syrian occupation of Lebanon, did not make us feel welcomed there. But for me, I was trying to keep focusing on my goal, and I would try to cheer myself up no matter the situation, even if it was working for 16 hours a day sometimes. In these two years, I applied for more than 10 scholarships, starting with a French one which almost got me a heart attack after rejecting my application at its final selection step for no reason, to a Japanese one with its 9-month selection procedures, and many more. Eventually, I got accepted in the “Catalan Scholarship”.
Lebanon was a nightmare for me with all the racism I faced, all the exploitation I had to accept, but now I am considering that experience as the main reason for appreciating the rights I have right now and enjoying my life here in Spain. Now, I am studying for my master’s degree in Data Science at UAB, in Barcelona. I feel more like home here, even more than in my home country. Finally, I am enjoying the opportunity of being myself. I am working hard to finish my studies and then have a job, I will either succeed or succeed here because there are no other options. This is my duty towards the people who gave me this opportunity, and this is the only way to survive with a Syrian passport. After what I have been through, I have no big expectations for humanity. I just want a decent life here, and hope to be able to visit my hometown to see my grey-haired parents and dance Dabke.