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Noura Al Qalam

My name is Noura and I am from Syria. I fled the country with my husband and two small daughters because of war. We knew that continuing to stay there will not be safe, so we left Syria and moved to Jordan. Once there, we applied for refugee status and waited seven years for our case to be reviewed and a decision made. The waiting time was very long and difficult. Once we were asked if we agree to be resettled in the United States and we said yes, we received an appointment for our first interview. It took 4 years after this appointment for our case to be approved and travel scheduled, and on August 20, 2020 we left for America. We traveled to Oklahoma where we experienced the first encounter with a Refugee Resettlement agency and workers. They were very kind and welcomed us with joy. Although we were overwhelmed by their care and kindness, we wanted to come to Michigan and join a larger Syrian community.

A day later we moved to Michigan where we were received by Samaritas, the local resettlement agency. It was the middle of a worldwide pandemic and it was very difficult for us all, but the agency and its staff assisted us with finding a home in Detroit and help meet our other needs. We also received help from ACC who provided us with a laptop and other useful supplies for the entire family. Again, we experienced so much love and caring from everyone!  Our family is hardworking, and we informed them that we want to work, study, and take care of ourselves as soon as possible. We did not want to be a burden to anyone, not a person, agency or the country that welcomed us.

I cannot say that it was easy to adapt. Everything was new to us. The streets, language, money, culture, school for our children. We met respectable people who helped us navigate all these new places and systems, through a global pandemic. It has been less than a year since we moved here, but we can say that we already belong. My two daughters are enrolled in school and are learning English. Their teachers praise them on how well they are doing, and we are very proud. I enrolled in an English as a Second Language class to improve my language skills. My husband is working and supporting our family. The company my husband works for is owned by a previous refugee just like us. He, too, wanted to contribute to the community and is now hiring other refugees and helps them succeed. It's our goal to also be good citizens and help others just like others helped us.

I hope that our lives continue to develop joy and happiness here in America. I have a wish that the rest of my family - my mother, father and siblings - will come to America so our family is complete.