"I first left Syria for Jordan when I was 26, to get away from the war in my home country. I now live in Geneva, where I work for Nestlé and carry out many volunteer activities. This isn't my first time in the city — I spent a month here back in 2008, but of course your impressions of a place change from when you come as a visitor versus when you live there. One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome here was getting a job and finding a sense of stability, but I feel better for having done so.
For me, migration means a constant conflict between the preservation of identity and trying to be well integrated in the host country. There are also the things that I miss about home, including my friends, family and the activities that used to make me happy. But even from afar I have been able to contribute my talents to my home country, through my volunteer work with several NGOs like Coup de Pouce, Elisa Asile and Essaim d'Accueil.
One thing you have to keep in mind if you move, is that your home country will not be the same when you go back. And you won't be the same either! I do still feel most at home when I'm around the people I grew up with — anywhere, although it's most ideal when I'm in my home country. But along your journey you learn that even though people are different, with regards to nationality, culture and race, we are actually all alike because we share the same values. This is very important."
This story is brought to you in partnership with The Refugee Cultural Festival, 2017 edition. The festival was launched to encourage small, local actions to embrace diversity and support those forced to leave their homes due to war, famine and climate change. Learn more about the festival and donate by clicking here.