"A tale of two Syrians" studying in Waco - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

"A tale of two Syrians" studying in Waco


Two local students are just happy to be in class after fleeing from their home country of Syria.

23 year old Amjad Dabi and 24 year old Audrey Mukaddasi were both living on the same street in Damascus, Syria. They lived in their home country from the beginning of the civil war that's torn the country apart since 2011. Then, after life threatening experiences for both men, they decided to leave the country for a safer life.

Senior lecturer in piano Bradley Bolen helped them do that after he met up with them while traveling in the Middle East. Through the help of American Voices, a global nonprofit for cultural engagement, Bolen got the musical students to Thailand. Eventually, they flew to Waco in early August, 2013 and received scholarships to go to McLennan County Community College and Baylor University.

Now that they're in a much safer environment, Dabi Mukaddasi describe how terrifying it was to live in Syria during the war. Both say it got to the point where it was dangerous leaving your front door and sometimes even your home wasn't safe.

"You try to overcome the fear and try to live your life through the fear but when something happens it reminds you of how close danger is," Dabi said.

Dabi was hurt when a car bomb went off outside his home causing glass to fall from the ceiling hurting his face. He says that blast killed 15 people around his home.

"People who live in stable places should realize how blessed they are to have a stable home to turn to and then again there's the fact of worrying about family back home so the joy is never complete," Dabi.

Mukaddassi had his own life-threatening experience. He says he was going to sell his laptop, took a wrong turn and ended up in the middle of a firefight. He says two groups were fighting from across the street and he drove right in the middle of it.

"A rocket hit the building next to me so I was like 20 meters between the building and any car so I don't know how I got out of there," Mukaddassi.

Mukaddassi says it was the worst four minutes of his life, but somehow he made a U-turn and got out of there.

Fortunately, the two musical students are out of danger, but they're still worried. They each have family and friends still living in Syria and they're constantly on their minds. Mukaddassi says the worst part is when his family doesn't have electricity and are out of reach. For around six hours, he doesn't know if his family is safe.

But both students are now able to focus on their musical talent. Dabi has played piano since he was seven years old, while Mukaddasi has been playing the violin since he was five. Both want to move up the ranks and play professionally, and now they can focus on that in safety.

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