Every young refugee has a story worth telling

Abdulaziz Haj Khalil, who fled Syria when he was 16, now studies at Zarqa University.
Abdulaziz Haj Khalil, who fled Syria when he was 16, now studies at Zarqa University.

One of the purposes of the Refugee Youth Voices Project is to shine light on the experiences, trials, and joys of refugee youth (ages 15-24) across the world, a group that is often left voiceless and badgered by stigma, myths, and misconceptions. At the core of the student-led project that I created, is a central mission to portray refugee youth as they really are: youth who have fled unimaginable conflicts and left everything behind in their homelands, but also youth who want to spend quality time with their friends and chase after their dreams.

This is a personal story written by a Syrian refugee youth who was displaced from his homeland and is currently living in Jordan. Abdulaziz Haj Khalil is a current student at Zarqa University who received his training in English from the British Council after fleeing from war-torn Syria.

In this piece, Abdulaziz shares about his experience as a refugee youth and writes about the hardships and struggles refugees face in their daily lives—but also the peace and hope they can find.

By Abdulaziz Haj Khalil.

As refugees, we all left our countries after seeing and experiencing a lot of sadness. Our lives completely changed. At some point I didn’t know what I had to do to live a normal life. Everyone around me was feeling sorry for what happened to me. Even I was feeling sorry for myself.

But sometimes I had to forget the past and just keep thinking of the future. And when I am thinking of the future that includes not just my future, but also my family’s, my friends’—all the people who I know in my life.

And from that point, once I realized that, I knew that I had to continue on in my life, whatever my situation. Because I have to.

And the first thing that I did after leaving my homeland was finding work and getting back to school. When I got back to school I was 17 years old. I knew that school could help me and my family more than temporary work could.

And at high school [in Jordan] I met a lot of Syrian refugee students. They all gave me hope that we still want to live, to study—to be a part of this world.

So, what am I doing as a refugee to show others that refugees are not looking for a welfare life but are in fact hard workers? By sharing my story of life after the war and how my life has completely changed and how it is difficult to live as a refugee.

The people in Jordan are very kind with us and very friendly. There is only one problem: there aren't a lot of opportunities here. And that what makes it difficult for the people here, especially the refugees.

But by sharing our stories, people in Jordan and people around the world can understand us more and more .

My best friend Mohammed, who is a native to Jordan, once said to me that after we become friends and he learned about my life, he knew that my life as a refugee is not easy. He also thought that [refugee resettlement agencies] give everything to us and that there are no problems in our lives. So, sharing my story about being a refugee has already changed his view on refugees. And that’s why I continue to share my story.

Before the war [in Syria] I was thinking that my life is a normal story and that I will always live in peace and happiness.

But now I believe that even when you are a refugee you can feel the peace inside you—by working for your life and trying hard to be a part of this world.