About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of Refugee Fadi Giha

Fadi Giha

Pictures taken in:

From:

Nationality:

Photo and interview by:

United Kingdom

Syria

Syrian

Amer Raawan

My dream is to keep making art nonstop, to learn and to teach and to make a difference.” Fadi Giha (27) believes his dance helped improve the perspective on male dancers in Damascus, Syria. “The determination from my side and disapproval of other people…was very much encouraging to actually do something about changing this.” But the discrimination became too much. “Back home, at some point it started to be suffocating.” He travelled to Europe on scholarship for a Master of Dance, excited to explore, but found that discrimination followed. “Having these assumptions about myself and my background…it felt devastating.” Still, Fadi is determined to establish himself. He finished his dissertation, works where he can, and always makes space for dance. “Whenever this [a] rational moment comes, everything changed,” says Fadi, “and I go back to myself and what I believe is worth living or worth focus on.” He now awaits the results of his application for refugee status in the UK.

Trigger Warning: Sexism

full interview

Hello, Fadi, how are you?
Hello, Amer, how are you? I’m good, thank you. 

Yeah I’m good, thank you so much. And, um, let’s start with, with the first question, which is, who are you? Just tell me a little bit about yourself.
Alright. My name is Fadi, I am 27 years old. I come from Damascus, Syria, and I am a dance artist, I do dance and choreography and I, I currently live in London, UK. 

Mmhmm.
And I think that’s it. 

Yeah, amazing. Thank you so much. Let me first start telling you a little bit about this project, this project is called 1000 Dream, it’s, it’s done by Witness Change and funded by Open Society Foundation. The, the, the aim of this, of this project is to change the negative attitudes towards refugees in Europe in general. This is why we, um, take photographs and we do interviews with refugees and asylum seekers in order to convey their experiences in general.
Huh? 

So, yeah, we try to make people be more understanding of like refugee situations. If you don’t, you don’t have to be identified in this, in this interview, nor in the pictures if you want, this is something that we discussed before.
Yes. 

Another thing is that these pictures will be available on the Internet, social media in general, and also on the website of the organization, and also like many, maybe like many other websites. So there’s a big chance that your family and friends would – or like, yeah, will – see the these pictures.
Yeah. 

So yeah, I just want you to know how widely your story could be distributed…

Okay thank you. 

There were also the forms, you already signed the forms. And, and also I’m going to be asking you some personal questions, but what I want you to know is that you don’t have to answer them.
Okay. 

So, so if there’s anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, please say “Skip” and I will skip it.
Okay. 

If you don’t feel like uncomfortable also like revealing names or situations or anything, like anything that will make you feel bad or sad or unsafe, please like, feel free to skip also. You can take a break at any time during this interview and you can also stop the interview at any time and even withdraw your consent if you want, like if you, if, if you feel that you’re not comfortable at any point, you can withdraw your consent and we will not, we will not use your, your story or your pictures or the interview, okay?
Alright, alright. Thank you very much. 

You’re welcome. Do you have any questions or do you want me to explain anything before we move forward?
No, not yet. 

Okay. 

We can move forward. 

Okay, then, let’s start with the, with the first section of the questions of our interview, which is about your current situation. I’m going to ask you a few questions about your current situation, okay?
Okay. 

First question is what kind of housing do you live in at the moment?
I currently live in a shared house, a shared house with three other people. 

Uh, is it -?
It’s a house, it’s not a flat or an apartment.

Is it a private renting?
It is private renting, yes. 

Can you describe the conditions more of, like of the house where you are living?
Yes, of course. The house is, it’s in east London, so it’s an individual house with a garden, a kitchen and four bedrooms and two bathrooms. I am renting the smallest room in the house at the moment, and I have everything that I want in this specific room and there is no living room in the house. So we use the kitchen as a kitchen and living room and we also spend some time in the garden when the weather is nice. I, I guess that’s it. 

Yeah, okay. Who do you live with?
I live with three friends of mine, that I met them here when I came to London and I used to visit them a lot in the house. So I,I was familiar with the house before I took an available room or I rented an available room in the house and I’ve been living here for two weeks now, actually. That’s it. 

Okay, amazing.
So I’m new. 

You, you mentioned that you’re a dancer, so I think for dancing, you, you do like some like you practice every now and then or like you choreograph routines and stuff? Do you think like or do you have enough space for that in your, in your place like to do to practice or do, do choreographies?
Well, unfortunately, I don’t have a big space in the house, and but because I exercise daily, I have like two to three hours of exercise every day. So I do that in the kitchen, I move some or move the table, like move some things and I have some small space for my daily routine exercise. And when I want to choreograph or dance, I either do it in the garden when it’s sunny or I usually go at night and take long walks in the park next door or any park in the area and I just put my headphones on and choreograph or dance. So it’s, it’s a very, it’s a difficult situation but I, I am trying to manage my dancing in small spaces or alternative spaces other than a dance studio. 

Okay amazing. How do you usually spend your time? If you work like tell me about your work, if you don’t, like tell me about like, you know, your just daily routines in general. How do you usually spend your time?
Well, I, I am currently, I’m currently working in a theater. And I am teaching young, I’m teaching drama and play for young people, in a secondary school, and I do that once a week and I, I have another day of the week, I work in a Syrian kitchen. And the rest of the days I am mostly I wake up, I’m going to tell you about my daily routine, so I wake, it’s more organized. So I wake up, I have my coffee, I do my exercise, I have my breakfast and then after an hour or so, I start my exercise, I finish, I take my shower and I open my laptop and I start looking for job opportunities or any choreographic or dance opportunity in London. And I, I cook, I eat, I, I go for walks, either alone or with some friends. And I, I – to be honest, most of the day I spend it behind, behind the screen trying to find out some opportunities or to watch something or to read and I do, I do read a lot. I read like from – sometimes I spend the whole day reading without actually doing anything on the laptop. So I, I don’t have a fixed things that I do, but I try to be as productive as possible the whole day with very few breaks. 

Okay amazing. Yeah, I was, I was going to ask you actually, what are some of the things that bring you joy? Is reading actually one of them and can you tell me about like other things that bring you joy?
Mm-hmm, joy. Yes, yes, I, yeah. The things that bring me joy is my exercise, because I feel like I am alive. I am actually doing something that I am, my body is, my skills and my body is getting better. Um… what bring me, brings me joy as well is reading, of course, because when I read, I feel like I’m traveling and I’m being exposed to other ideas, I’m triggered to think more, to analyze, to, to establish more knowledge. And I – as long as I’m living with my friends in this house – I, I, I also am very grateful for having them here. Because especially now during Covid-19 situation, it’s very nice to be living with your friends and people who understand you and people who know you and that you know them and to share what’s happening with your life, with your day. I, I usually enjoy, enjoy a lot, meeting new people or meeting friends in general. I like to share and exchange ideas, it’s not easy for me to stay completely alone unless I wanted to or unless it’s necessary. 

Okay.
And, yeah, did that answer your question? 

Yeah, yeah  yeah, amazing. Thank you so much. How has life been since you arrived in Europe? What’s been good about being here? What’s been difficult?
Well, since I arrived to Europe what has been good and it has been difficult. What has been good is that I’ve always wanted to travel and to be exposed to other cultures, and especially that I was studying an international master’s degree so I had, so I was traveling to different, I was living in different countries around Europe for two years. I lived in Norway, in France, in Greece and in the UK, finally. So it’s been, it’s been great, it’s been a great experience to be, to meet people from various and different backgrounds and different cultures and to learn from them and to exchange what we know and what we do. It’s, it’s been difficult because, because back, back in Damascus, it’s very common for people to live, to live with their families unless they are married or unless they move to another city for work. So, so for me to be this independent, so since- when I first traveled, I took some time to to learn how to be independent, and, but eventually that brought me a lot of joy and brought me a lot of… My experience was quite intense, which, which made me grow as a person. And I think what’s been difficult is, like in – for my, my, my experience specifically – is, is moving a lot is getting to, getting used to a place and, and its characteristics and then suddenly moving to a different place that, that has, that it has just completely different characteristics. But at the same time, this, this is difficult but it’s, it’s, it’s amazing, it’s magnificent, to be able to see, to be able to see this amount of things and experience this amount of things in just two years. 

Okay, great. Can you, can you describe to me how living here has made you feel? I know, I know, that you already like answered, like you given me, you’ve given me something – some information about this, but, yeah, in general, how did it make you feel?
Since I came to London, you mean, right? 

Yeah, yeah.
Mm, as I came to London, hmm… But I think it’s been, it’s been a bit, a bit confusing if, if we want, we want to talk about feelings, because, every phase of my experience in London has specific things or issues let’s say. So, what’s been difficult, I would say it’s the situation of Covid-19, because I arrived to London in January last year and then I only had two months to explore London and then, the pandemic reached the UK and everything was closed and I had to, I was, I was writing my dissertation back then. So I had such a hard time, with everything that’s going around me in the world to actually write my dissertation and feel like – and because at some point it felt like life, life will, life is stopping and I was terrified. And then I, I managed to… because also, also the lockdown in London was on and off, so that was, that was something that brought me some optimism or some hope, I was hopeful for this all, all of this to be over and I I felt like I, I want to prepare myself, for what’s going to happen after the lockdown. So, I was, so I’ve been working a lot on myself, I’m developing my skills, my way of, my ways of thinking and working and it’s sometimes it, it’s sometimes it feels, in London it feels… sometimes, sometimes I feel like I’m, I’m too small for the city, you know what I mean? 

Because, because all of the cities that I traveled, that I was in, for that I traveled to or lived in for the past two or three years, have been smaller cities than London and London is enormous. And it feels like there’s a lot to explore and I always feel like I want to embrace all London together, but it seems impossible. And I would say also finding, finding opportunities, especially in the art sector, it’s been extremely, extremely hard, almost impossible and this also affects my emotional state of being. Sometimes devastated, sometimes I feel completely down, I feel like I won’t be able to accomplish, accomplish anything. But I also have other days where I feel that I am extremely happy to be in London because London is… everything here is, is about diversity, it’s about differences, it’s about, it’s about sharing. Even if you walk in, in a street in London, like if you look at the houses, you see each house has their own kind of windows, their own, their own doors, the different colors. Anywhere you go, you, you meet new people that that enrich your, your experience and they teach you something new every day. So I feel like London is the place that I have always wanted to be and I’m very glad, I’m very happy that I’m here. It’s, yeah, it’s the city that I, I would, I would want to live in for, for many years to come. 

Okay, amazing. Thank you so much for your answer. Um, let me ask you now, how does being away from the rest of your family make you feel or how like being also away from home make you feel? How does this, um –  this is like the first part of the question, um, let’s answer this and this and then we will move to the other part of the question – so how does being away from the rest of your family or from home make you feel?
Uh, it… I sometimes feel some lack of security and comfort. I feel like I need to be always – I feel, I feel most of the times alerted too because it’s only me here, so I have to be responsible for, for, for all the, for all, for… everything. And sometimes I feel lonely, sometimes I feel like I don’t find people who share the same as as me, and sometimes I find it hard to communicate with them, with new people because I feel nostalgic about my family and the people who are close to me in Syria, because I’m now speaking mostly about family and close people that I had and I still have in Syria. 

Okay. Do you, do you like – I know you said, like, you miss your family – does, does the fact that you’re away from them make you feel worried or concerned or? Yeah, can you, can you tell me about this, if you, if you can?
Yes, I think I am always worried about, about family back home. I think even when I was living in Damascus, I was always worried and now I think it’s, it’s doubled up because I am very much far away, I’m in a different, different space. And, and it’s, it’s – when it’s hard to reach them and it’s hard to to be close to them, especially in case of an emergency, yeah, it feels I feel helpless sometimes. But, eventually it is what it is and yeah. 

Okay, thank you so much. How does the feeling of not belonging or discrimination or stigma, if you, if you’ve ever felt any of these, impact you and could you please describe?
Can you, can you repeat the question or make it a bit clearer? 

Yeah yeah, sure. So, how does the feeling of not belonging – if you’ve ever felt that you don’t belong in London or if you’ve ever been in any situation where you faced discrimination, or stigma concern to anything about your identity, about your personality, about your background – so if you’ve been in any of these situations, feeling, not belong like that you don’t belong, facing discrimination or facing stigma, how did that impact you?
Oh okay, so I would say, I would say that, like I think, I believe that I, I, like, discrimination is something that I, that I faced back home, growing up, and I think it was in Syria, it was more intense because, because I was only in Syria, it was the only place for me. And when I traveled, of course I felt – I feel more comfortable with being myself, but at the same time, there’s, there’s, there is, I mean, me, I face a lot of discrimination, of course, but it’s just, it’s a different kind. Sometimes it’s an indirect one, sometimes I sense it, sometimes, sometimes it’s direct and… I believe that this is, I don’t, I, I, I… I believe I can, I can get over these things by, by understanding, and by… That’s a hard question Amer… 

Yeah, don’t, don’t worry, don’t worry. If, if, if you don’t, if you don’t want to answer that’s totally fine.
Yeah, but I mean it’s, I, I want to elaborate more but yeah – because I don’t believe that discrimination is only happened in my home country – I believe it was, it was more and more intense back home, and here it’s, I, I think here especially, especially in London, it’s, it’s even more comfortable because of the diversity, as I said before. And yeah, yeah, that’s it. 

Yeah okay. If you want me to help you to elaborate on this, let me ask you, in the discrimination that you faced back home in Syria, is it related to you being a dancer, for example, like a male dancer?
Yes, of course, yes, yes, of course. Yeah back home, it’s, yes, it’s, it’s not very common for, for, for men to dance. And yeah, I did face a lot of – I, I, I don’t know if I would call it discrimination or, let’s say disapproval or sometimes, sometimes I’m not taken seriously because of my career and sometimes I am, sometimes, sometimes I get, of course, like some, some not very nice comments or… Not only me, I’m speaking for most of the dancers in Syria that I personally know, especially in Damascus. But I believe, I believe that through, through, through work, like if I want to – yeah, through my work or through the work that I presented or it was witnessed, I believe this helped to change the, the point of view of men dancing in Syria. Of course I mean the people who witnessed the work. So, so, yes, it was not easy, I was, I was mostly, I was – more the determination from my side and disapproval of other people or other groups of people that I faced was very much encouraging to actually do something about changing this, these, the – these kind of perspectives about dancing and about men dancing and specifically.

Okay, amazing. Can you like we’re still, we’re still in this question, but do you think you’ve ever felt or someone made you feel that you don’t belong here in London or in the UK in general – or let’s say in Europe in general, because you’ve been in other countries in Europe also? Yeah, did you like go through any situation where you felt that you don’t belong or someone made you actually that you don’t – made you feel that you don’t belong?
Yes exact- yes, we didn’t talk about belonging and this is important. What for me personally, I, for me personally, belonging is is a big, big, big question because I don’t – because for me, it’s not, I don’t – because as an individual, I belong to so very, many things in this world or in the spaces that I’ve been to. And I think it’s, I think it’s… If someone made me feel like I don’t belong here… That, of, of course, I mean, of course, I faced a lot of situations since I traveled that: of being Syrian, of being stereotyped, of, of, of not being taken seriously, let’s say, of, of being, of, of just having these assumptions about myself and my background, and my background, I faced a lot of that, but I… I… I don’t feel like it’s, it affected how I, how, how I belong to this specific place as much as it’s, it’s felt, it felt devastating. I felt angry a lot of times, I didn’t know how to react, and, and yeah, I, I, I, a lot of times also, whenever I deal with, with higher authorities, wherever I traveled in Europe, I always feel this kind of superiority. And, and it’s something that cannot be hidden eventually. Yeah, I faced a lot of that, but I think, I think that did not affect the way I belong to this specific place or to the things that I feel I belong to, because, because I believe that like that everything is made for everyone, we are meant to share the world all together. So this ideology of mine will not be changed over discrimination. Discrimination will only make it, make me feel devastated, make me feel sometimes hopeless, makes me feel sad, makes me, makes me sometimes want to do more, sometimes it makes me angry that I just sometimes like in the spot I feel like I, I want to leave this space, this space is not for me. But whenever like this rational moment comes, everything changed – everything changes, and I go back to, to myself and what I believe is, is worth living or worth focus on. 

Amazing, thank you so much. I mean, like that these things that you’ve been through or like seem or sound very difficult, could you ever have imagined that you would have been able to handle all these like situations, and how have you been able to overcome or survive or live with all that?
Well, the thing is that back home before I travel I’ve always heard about, like how Syrian people specifically, because I come from Syria and I know the Syrian people who traveled before me, that it’s not that easy in Europe and it’s not that, it’s not that ,it’s not, it’s not that magical as it’s advertised back home, and but – so I always knew that when I traveled, of course, I got a bit shocked at some point in a way or another because because at some some moments I feel like, I felt like this is, like the whole world is, is share these specific bad sides of society or of accepting the other, and I think for me what, what the main, the main solution to overcome these things is through people around me and through my communication with people around me, especially those who are close to me, who understand me, who we share love together and acceptance and we have conversations and we don’t mind our differences because we always find it, find it, find it the main reason for our bond, to connect with each other. So I believe that the other, the other helps me overcome the discrimination, stigma and all of these situations. 

Okay, amazing. Do you think you have that you develop the ability to deal with these challenges, or do you think you always had these, like skills, mechanisms, this kind of resilience? Do you think that you’ve always had it since your home, or do you think that you developed this ability to deal with these challenges after you left home, like after you came to Europe?
I feel like I’ve always, I’ve, I, I was, I was raised or I was – I grew up, I grew up establishing or…yeah, establishing this resilience back home and when I travel, it was for me it was, sometimes it’s, it’s, sometimes it felt like it’s – sometimes I felt more devastated because, because this is not what I was looking for and this is not what I want and this is just like situations being repeated, but in different spaces. And – but, but I believe that it’s I believe it’s an ongoing process. I believe that since, since I, since Damascus till now I’ve been, I am – I mean, I mean in Damascus, my reaction towards discrimination or any other kind, any other thing related to discrimination was very different from my reaction now. Of course, it was extremely hard back then, but now it’s for me it’s, for me, it’s for me, I, I, I grew up to deal with it, I would say I grew up since Damascus until now to deal with these type of things and it’s an ongoing process. 

Okay, great. How do you think Covid-19 – I, I know you said a little bit about this before, but like I want you very quickly to tell me about, like – how Covid-19 affected you in terms of daily life and your, like, mood and emotional well-being in general?
Okay. Okay, Covid-19 is, it is also a very, very big question because Covid-19 changed life for everyone completely. I, I never thought that I would, I would live, I actually witnessed a pandemic and especially now that it’s 2021 so any pandemic will definitely be global because it’s, it’s the era of technology and traveling and, and globalization. So it, it’s I think it, I think it was, it was very, Covid-19 was very harmful for me and for my career and for, for my mental situation, of course, because, because I experienced I mean, I experienced traumatic situations in my past that, that, they didn’t have the chance yet to actually, just put on the table and, and acknowledge and accept and move on. So Covid-19 came as a shock and suddenly I felt like time stopped. I had a lot of time to, have a lot of time to, to be with myself, which is sometimes very much terrifying, it, other than it affected my social life, my career, and my motivation, my, my hope because I felt hopeless. At the same time, I – this, this space also helped me to, to think, to reflect, to have more time to be by myself, to be forced to be by myself, I eventually wrote my dissertation during lockdown, I, I developed new skills for dance. I mean, this is – these are ways to survive, but Covid-19, my relationship with the other, for example, it’s not, it’s not as it used to be, now we have to keep distance from each other. We cannot, we cannot be close to each other. We cannot sense or feel each other the way we used to. Now, it’s always about respecting this big space, it’s always about few people in one place. It’s, we’re not, we’re not able to breathe comfortably beside each other, it’s, it’s, it’s devastating, it’s sad, it’s… Yeah, I don’t know what to say more, to be honest. 

That’s, that’s actually, more than enough. Thank you so much. Now, now we’re going to move to talk a little bit about your past. Okay. So why, why did you leave your country and just like describe what happened, like what was it that made you leave your country?
Well, what made me leave my country was the need for an escape and for exploration. Because Damascus at some point was – I mean, regardless of the war topic, it was was limiting. I wanted to travel even before I graduated from my dance university, I wanted to travel to do something and to come back and to always be able to go back and forth. But I couldn’t. And after graduation, I was very much determined to travel and continue my studies. So I found, I applied for many opportunities, many scholarships, and eventually I got an Erasmus scholarship to travel, to study a masters degree in Dance. And this is when I went to the Embassy, I applied for the visas and I got them and I traveled. So I believe it’s, I, I, it’s… The question is why? Because I wanted to explore, I wanted to, I wanted to find more comfort, back home, at some point it started to be suffocating. And I didn’t see myself being able to go as many places or spaces in my career, I mean, as if I was able to travel. And, and I needed this this sudden change of everything of space and time of, of people. I needed to expose myself to the world, and this masters degree was the perfect opportunity for me to be exposed to the world and to explore. 

Okay, amazing. How did leaving your country make you feel at the time? When you were leaving your country, how did you feel?
When I was leaving my country, I was very, very, very excited. I was, I was very excited, especially that, that when I left Damascus, Damascus was announced, safe from war. And so I left while I was, while I was sure that all my loved ones will hopefully not be facing any possibility of harm as before. I, I felt like it was the right, the very right time for me to travel, so I was, there I didn’t feel any kind of hesitation, I was going for it, I was, I felt, I felt accomplished, I felt, motivated, excited, courageous, and, yeah, yeah, that’s it. 

Okay, amazing. How was the journey to Europe? Is there an experience that was particularly difficult that you could tell us about, maybe when you were traveling, for example, from Syria to Lebanon? Because I think you left from Lebanon. So, from when you were traveling from Syria to Lebanon and then from Lebanon to your first stop in Europe – I think it was France, I guess? So, so did, did anything or was there any unpleasant incident that happened, during like this time or that you can tell us about?
Yes, yes, yes. Because it’s always, it’s always been, it’s always been extremely hard to enter Lebanon from Syria and, and the amount of stress going on the borders, because sometimes they don’t let you in, even if you have a flight ticket, because it’s like, you know, the roads from Damascus to Lebanon, the borders, they either ask for specific documents or for a lot of money or for the hotel reservation or for these kind of specific things for you to enter. So I only had my flight tickets and I actually went to Lebanon two days before my flight just in case I didn’t get in so I can try again after twenty four hours. But, yeah, but I remember on the borders it was – usually it’s very crowded and there’s a long queue – but that, that morning it was very, it wasn’t that crowded. And I remember I got in an employee that told me to go to another queue because I don’t know why so I had to queue twice, but eventually I got in. I spent, I spent a day and night in, in Beirut, and then I went to, I took a flight to, like heading to France, but with the transit in Turkey in Sabiha Airport before it was renewed. Sabiha airport was I mean, for me, because it was the first time I ever traveled, so it’s the first time I ever had to transit and see an airport and walk around an airport with all of my luggages. And so it was yes, it was very stressful, it was too long, it took too long. Sabiha airport was very confusing. I got to France and also in France, I had to wait five hours for the bus to take me to the city that I was supposed to be in so – and I was completely alone. It was a very nice experience, but extremely, extremely stressful. And I remember everything about it until now, I would never forget my first flight. 

Okay, thank you so much. Just give me one second.
Take your time. 

Okay, so I understand that you’re an asylum seeker, could you please tell us about your experience as an asylum seeker or for a bit? What are the things that you’re struggling with at the moment as an asylum seeker? And yeah, if you can, if you can just like tell me a little bit about this please?
As an asylum seeker, I feel, I feel like I don’t I, I, I feel hanging, let’s say, it’s because because the documents that they give asylum seekers are not, are not very, are not very nice of them to give us, to give them to us, because it’s, it’s extremely hard to find a job with the asylum seeking cards because this is not an official stay in in London. So whenever you are talking to an employee or applying for jobs, there’s always this question around, what’s this card? How long are you staying here? What’s going to happen next? Can you be, are you able to stay for the next three years, two years, for example? And you always don’t know the answer because you are still waiting for the Home Office to give you an answer and the Home Office takes one or more years to, to let to, to, to give or not give status, so it’s it’s extremely hard. You – I have no access to any benefits, and the benefits that I have access to, they they take too long to be provided. And at the same time, I personally don’t want to take anything; I want to work, I want to establish myself with myself. And this is what I’ve been trying to do, but luckily, because luckily they – usually asylum seekers, they take away their work permit or they don’t, the asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the UK – luckily, I – they kept my work permit that I had when I was a student in London and I am able to work. But it is as I said before, it’s extremely hard to find jobs and it’s a very long process, very bureaucratic, a lot of papers, a lot of things that, that sometimes they seem meaningless. Sometimes, sometimes I feel like, yeah, I feel hanging, as I said before, I don’t know where I stand at the moment, I don’t know. Sometimes I’m confused whether to start something or to wait and yeah. 

How does, how does this long wait make you feel?
What, sorry? 

How does this long wait make you feel?
Makes me feel? Mm, impatient. 

Mmhmm.
And… angry. 

Okay.
Because –  

Uh – 
I feel, because. Yeah, tell me, tell me. 

No, no go on, yeah.
I, I really forgot the idea, please ask me.

Okay, sorry. How… okay, I’m going to ask you now a question and I want to start your answer with “My dream” or “Before the war, my dream was…” So like my question is before the events that led you to leave home or, let’s say, before the war started in Syria, what was your dream? And I wanted to start your answer with “Before the war. My dream was…” Here we’re talking about before 2011.
Oh, my God, um… Amer, can I take my time to answer this? 

Yeah, sure.
Do I have to start with – I mean is it –  “Before the war, my dream was…” 

Yes, you have to start your answer with this.
Something because I believe that it’s like in different stages of life, it’s different objectives it depends on. Yes, before the war in Damascus, my dream was to, to, to establish myself as an individual, as an artist, to, to, be able to, to give, to leave a trace, to make people think. And after the war, I – or this is after the war, you mean? The second part is after the war or right now or when? 

No, I’m going to ask you now, when you were leaving your, your home country, when you were leaving Syria, when –
Yeah. 

Yeah. How, what was your dream at the time, like, when you were leaving? So – and I want you to start your answer with “I dreamt that…”
I dreamt that I will… I dreamt that I will, I would learn a lot. I will be much richer, I mean, as an individual, not money wise. I, I wanted to just to, to be, to explore, to grow as a person and as an artist. To, to find, find my, find my artistic purposes to, to exactly know what my intention is in life and… And I also, I also, I, I wanted to, to, to take all of these things and to always be able to go to my home country and always be able to come here and always for the world to be open for me. This is how I felt when I first traveled, I felt like the whole world is open for me to explore it and to just be everywhere or anywhere that I want to. I wanted to bring everything back to the art scene in Syria. I want to be effective. 

Okay.
It’s a hard question, Amer.

Don’t worry, I’m sorry, yeah. Before leaving your home country, what was, what would you describe as your strengths? Have you maintained these? If so, how did you maintain them? If not, why? Why didn’t you maintain them? So when you were in Syria, what, what, what were your strengths?
Determination and confidence and people around me. 

Did you maintain these?
I believe, I believe yes, I do – I did – I still do. 

Okay, how did you, how did you maintain these qualities?
How do I main – how do I maintain these qualities is… yeah, can we pass? 

Yeah, sure okay. What you’ve been through seems really difficult. Do you feel like you have grown in any way as a result of this experience or has anything at all positive come out of it?
Yes, I believe that all of, like, the human lived experience is worthy and it’s highly important and yes, I did. Yeah, I, I can say that yes, it’s who I am at the moment, which I am, which I am – I mean, who I am at the present moment – is all of my experience, experiences accumulated together. What did you say that second part of the question? 

Has anything at all positive come out of it? I think, I think you’ve already answered that, yeah. Yeah, okay. What, what are your hopes and dreams for the future now? I want you to start your answer with “My dream is…”
My dream is to keep making art nonstop, to, to learn and to teach and to, to make a difference. 

Amazing. We really appreciate you answering all these questions, is there anything you’d like –
(not audible)

Thank you. Is there anything you’d like to add that might help people in Europe better understand the life of refugees here?
Mm… I would say that everyone is worth to, to get to know, everyone is worth to, to, to share their opinion. Everyone is worth to be loved and everyone is worth to be explored. Thank you very much for your time Amer, and it was a pleasure. 

Well, thank you so much, Fadi, for the interview. Thank you so much for your patience and all your answers and for sharing your experience with us.
Thank you. 

Okay, have a good day. Bye bye.
You’re welcome, bye bye.

Bye. 

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in english. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.