Two-Time Refugee: Moamin Sami


Nathalia Valdez, Editor-in-Chief

“We were in the middle of class, when a bomb went off,” explains Moamin Sami, senior at Sahuaro High School. “It was scary, we were kids, everyone was crying, and it’s mostly all a blur, but thankfully everyone got home safe that day.”

Moamin is from Baghdad, Iraq, and has lived in the United States for approximately 7 years after living in Syria as well. “We were told on February 28th, 2013 that we were allowed to come into the United States, so I didn’t go to school for like 3 weeks. I was so excited to leave. A couple days before it was time to go, we were informed our Visa was actually declined. I cried for days.  When I went back to school, the teachers and kids asked me why I was gone so long, I was so upset about the whole situation, I lied and told them I had gotten sick.  About a week later, my whole family got accepted again. This time it was fully confirmed, yet I was so afraid we’d be denied again, I didn’t tell anyone I was leaving, not even my friends, I just left.”

Moamin with his classmates back in Syria. (Moamin Sami )

It took about 5 plane trips for Moamin to arrive in the US, but he believes it was all worth it. In Baghdad bombs going off was not an uncommon thing. “Once my mom and brother went to go get snacks at the store, on the way they heard a noise so they started coming home. When my mom’s shoe fell off, she was going back to get it, however my brother told her ‘no’.  Just as that happened, a bomb went off right where the shoe was.  They made it safely inside the building, and were able to come home,” he says, thinking back.

“I came to the United States because my cousins were in Arizona, we did a Visa and we waited 8 years to get approved to live here,” says Maomin. “There’s definitely many differences between Syria and here, ” he continues. “For example, it’s so much safer here, and people definitely have more freedom. Another really big difference is the environment; in Syria people are normally up at night, the vibe over there was really nice.”

Moamin with his life-long best friend Charles in 2013. (Moamin Sami)
Moamin and Charles now (2020) (Moamin Sami)

Moamin believes one of the hardest challenges was making friends. “It was hard to talk to people, especially since I was barely learning the language,” he admits. “I learned to speak English by myself, I mostly watched videos and played on my Playstation. I learned a lot of English at school too.” Going into 5th grade, knowing no one, was definitely a big challenge, but thankfully nice people lurk around every corner!” Moamin’s to-the-date best friend is Charles Destura, who similarly to Moamin had, at the time, recently come to the United States from the Philippines. “We both took the same classes, including special classes to help us learn English better,” he laughs, “and ever since then we’ve been inseparable.” Charles believes, “Moamin is a great friend, and he’ll literally do whatever it takes to get an A, he’s very dedicated and hardworking.” Recently, former Sahuaro student, Charles, moved to Oregon: however, him and Moamin stay in touch and talk every day. Furthermore, Charles is planning to come and visit him soon.

Over all, Moamin is very thankful to have this opportunity, and even though he misses his hometown and his childhood friends, he is extremely happy to have a chance at a fresh start and great opportunities.