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I Was a Dentist in Syria

Aziz Sammoud

Aziz SammoudIt was a hard day when I left my country Syria. My wife was seven months pregnant. The war was getting closer to us. We left our house and rented another one near the clinic where I worked as a Dentist. Then, after two weeks, a military tank came towards our new house and shot two shells. I was in the house with my wife, two daughters, and my sister-in law. We were on the fourth floor, the tank shelled the second and third floors. We were very afraid. The explosion was powerful, and the smoke was everywhere. We were coughing and breathing hard.

My wife was bleeding. We escaped to the bathroom because it was safer. My daughter Rital hugged me tightly. Then the electricity went out. We could hear the sound of gunshots. After four hours, silence prevailed. That night was the longest night of my life. In the morning, we could not go out of the house because many soldiers were still outside. We stayed the whole day and night inside the house. The next day we moved to the farms near our city. We lived for ten days under the trees. After that, we reached Damascus, the capital city of Syria. But Damascus was not safe either, so we decided to leave our country.

I will never forget that day. It is difficult to lose your home, family, job, and memories. I felt like it was the end of my life. My wife, children, and in-laws made the difficult decision to move to Egypt. We stayed there for three years. Then we moved to the U.S. For about six months, I have suffered learning a new language. This is the first time I ever had to speak English.

Syrian refugees arrive at the Greek Island, Lesvos.

Syrian refugees arrive at the Greek Island, Lesvos.

I have a challenge. I have to decide if I want to continue to work as a Dentist. I need to study again and go to dental school for three years at least. The time and money that it would take weigh on my mind, but the encouragement I receive from my family and friends make me think it is something I could achieve. The first step to achieving this goal would be to master the English proficiency test, TOEFL. From there, I can look at having my transcripts evaluated and hopefully with some dental courses in Texas pass the dentistry exam. I am hoping to find work in a dental office as a Dental Assistant or a Dental Surgery Assistant rather than continue working in a factory like I am now. Working within a dental office will help me practice my skills as a trained Maxillofacial Surgeon. I just recently received my Dental Assistant license for Texas and I am excited to use it!

Day after day, it is getting better. Hopefully, I will stand on my two feet again. Sometimes, when I look at my life, I feel like I have nothing, but then I realize that as long as my family is happy and healthy, I have everything. I have made it through some difficult years, but all of this has prepared me for a new life in the United States. It is difficult not to be working as a Dentist, but I know I will make it back there again.

Aziz Sammoud is from Douma, Syria, near Damascus. He came to the U.S. 10 months ago, and he lives in northern Texas with his wife, sister-in-law, and three children. He is a student in the Richardson Independent School District’s Adult Education program.

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