Rena Mansour – Syria

Rena was born in Syria and she came to America with her family in 1997 at the age of 10. Her grandmother, who owns a restaurant in the area, had arrived before Rena. Rena’s family had been trying for many years to obtain a visa to come to America.

Rena grew up Marmarita, a small town of approximately 10,000 people, and living there was like being a member of one big family. If anything happens to someone in the town, everyone experiences it. When you wake up and go to your friend’s house, you say hello to everyone along the way.

Rena misses that closeness and wants to return there to live. She goes home to Syria every summer and stays for 2 months. The best feeling for her is when she arrives at the airport and many family members are waiting for her. Family is very important to Rena.  In this country, she and her extended family and friends, about 50 people, get together every Sunday at someone’s home to share food, music, conversation, and laughter. She describes these gatherings as being simple, but very important to her.

Although Rena’s first language was Arabic, she speaks fluent English.  She attributes this to her mother who pushed her to learn the language. Rena carried a dictionary around with her, and she continues to do so. Rena is now a student at Youngstown State University studying criminal justice. She is concerned that she may not be able to use her degree in Syria.

Rena is concerned about the conflict in Syria, yet she feels more strongly now about her wish to return there.  If something happens in Syria, Rena wants to be there for her country and her people.  When she was young she thought about being rich and having nice things, but as a young adult, her values have changed.

For Rena, America is a beautiful country, and if she does move back to Syria, she would want to come back to this area, but yet home is home. If someone in Syria is considering moving to the United States, Rene would tell that person, “If you feel that you want to accomplish something you cannot accomplish in Syria, you may be able to accomplish more financially, you may be able to open up many doors for yourself and your children, but the feeling of home is something you could never find as much as you could in your real home.”

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