His Family Fled Syria. He Didn’t Cry Until He Heard About His Sisters.

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Whereas Yousef’s mental curiosity has been rewarded within the Netherlands, it obtained his complete household in bother in Syria. In 2012, when Yousef was 11 and a couple of 12 months had handed because the begin of the protests towards the regime, armed males from the Mukhabarat, the nation’s infamous inside safety power, burst into the household dwelling. The issue? The kid’s telescope, which he used to have a look at Mount Qasioun from the dining-room window, was seen from the road, and on that very same avenue was a Mukhabarat workplace. They suspected that any person is likely to be spying on them. Inside Yousef’s dwelling, the lads shoved his mom apart, confiscated the offending telescope and took all of the household’s laptops and cellphones. Regardless of his shock and concern, Yousef, not fairly understanding absolutely what was taking place, requested one of many males innocently, “When are you giving it again?”

The violent intrusion bolstered what Syrians had been taught for generations beneath authoritarian rule: The nation was not for them. They didn’t have significant rights as residents of a state. Somewhat, “Syria is Assad,” because the indoctrination went, and Yousef had already had classes to that impact in each his historical past and nationality lessons — and within the schoolyard, the place college students needed to line up within the mornings to salute Bashar al-Assad.

It’s a type of schooling that he doesn’t miss within the Netherlands. However as totally different as his life experiences have been from these of his Dutch classmates, Yousef insists that he has extra in widespread with them than not. “I’m an introverted, Syrian-born Gen Z nerd of above-average intelligence dwelling within the Netherlands.” Past that, he says, he’s not really certain who he’s — however he’s fast so as to add that too is a typical Era Z attribute.

Although he says he’s not “tremendous into” something today, Yousef is working his means by way of the discography of the Australian rock band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and studying a whole lot of Japanese comedian books. He tries to disregard the information out of Syria and confine his fretting to issues nearer to dwelling, like whether or not he’s genetically sure to lose his hair, which he wears lengthy now, often pulled again on the neck. He additionally jokes that it’s a “nice injustice” that he can’t develop an excellent beard — one thing he’s needed to do for a very long time. “If I let my beard develop out,” he says, “I’ll simply look Amish.”

Whereas he does acknowledge the gravity of what occurred to him, he says understanding on the time that it wasn’t everlasting and understanding now that he’ll quickly purchase Dutch citizenship (and the alternatives and freedom of motion it presents) has mitigated any lingering bitterness. Nor does he suppose there’s anybody responsible for what occurred to his household. “Blame the Man?” he asks rhetorically. “However no, the world is extra difficult than that. You may’t blame anybody.”

His sister Souad, who lives a number of hours away in Amsterdam, thinks that Yousef doesn’t wish to give an excessive amount of weight to his hardships as a result of he doesn’t wish to be seen as a refugee. “It’s laborious to just accept it’s part of who you’re,” she says. “He could be uncomfortable, however he’s not ashamed of being from Syria.” Apart from, as Yousef sees it, others have it a lot worse, and on stability, he thinks he obtained to be a child, at the very least for some time. “What’s extra necessary,” he says, “is that rather a lot don’t.”

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