Traveling to Marburg was more than learning German for me; it was about meeting new people and learning about the world though their perspectives.
As many of you know, there is a large crisis in Syria. A good friend of mine is from Damascus, Syria. Though she is currently studying in Germany, her life still lies in the middle of chaos. I spent three hours listening to her and her friend, who also grew up in Syria, reflect on the situation.
They discussed how good Syria was before the protests began, describing Syria as “a land of contradictions.” They said you would look one way and see the sea, another way the mountains and another the desert. They said when you walked down the street, you saw women dressed fully covered in burkas, where you only saw the oval of their faces. Right next to them, you saw a woman walking in a t-shirt and jeans. Syria was a very diverse country.
Our conversation took a dark turn. Moments later, my friend found out her cousin was killed. The saddest part was it didn’t come as much as a surprise because it is common to lose a loved one to the fighting.
They went on to talk about how their lives turned upside down in the last three years.
It was heartbreaking. While living in Syria during the beginning of the revolution, they learned to treat each other and themselves as if each day was their last.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. You are a target,” they said.
They told stories about people they knew who were beaten, abducted and killed. They brought up how strange it was the way humans can adapt to stressful situations and eventually it becomes normal. They said people of Syria try to go about their daily lives, even though bombs are going off.
Death haunts them. Anyone is could fall victim to unfair chemical warfare or combat crossfire by walking down the street.
Currently, their perspectives on the future of Syria is grim. It is hard for my friends to see their country ever becoming “normal” again. I don’t blame them.
What was most painful was not the loss of beautiful old buildings and monuments, but the loss of Syrian culture they built, lived in and loved.
This war tore apart everything Syrians once knew, leaving them with nothing to go back to.
The most mind opening thing they said was that,”there is no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ team anymore. It is just bad. It doesn’t matter if they are the Regime or the Rebel. Some of these people aren’t even Syrian. The original cause has been lost in the fighting. People are killing innocent people for no reason. We just ask, why? But for these people who are killing now, they see heaven and mermaids at the end of a gun. How do you stop people who are happy to die?”