When you hear the words ‘Middle East’ what do you think of?
When you hear the word ‘Syria’, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
It’s probably not break dancing troupes and art projects, the birth of Christianity, Roman architecture, amazing food, roof terraces, the sea side, birthday nights out…
I feel like so much of what I read, the images I see, the things people say back home, are negative and fear inducing. People warned me about coming here, told me to be careful and gave me worried /are-you-crazy looks when I spoke about it…
But the reality is so different.
Yes there is war. Of course there is horror and terror and destruction and despair. I actively spent my week here with the very people whose lives have been turned upside down because of it. But there is SO MUCH MORE. This war doesn’t define these people or this place. Life goes on.
We spent a few of our evenings with our break-dancing Syrian friend. 24 years old and studying English, we never even talked about the war. We talked about Fifa and food and his sisters birthday celebrations, he showed us his unicycling and we laughed a lot. Any Jordanians we were with didn’t bat an eyelid when he mentioned where he was from, if it happened to come up, because it was never even important.
And it’s not important…who cares where you happened to be born or where you happened to grow up, we’re all just people, living our lives in the best way we know how, and these particular people are currently facing some serious obstacles. But the way we respond to that, to their struggle, to this crisis, DOES define us as people. The words we use, the actions we take, the things we think and feel, they ARE important. In fact, these are the only things that truly matter.