Thinking about Migration

Beyond my beautiful childhood memories, I went to Syria as an adult to exercise my Right to Freedom of Movement.

Story by Kamelia Khalil. Edited by Melaina Dyck
Syrian Arab Republic, Western Asia
Published on July 26, 2020

Reading time: 3 minutes

This story is also available in de



I am a child of a mixed marriage – my mother is Bulgarian and my father is Syrian. I was born in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Currently, I am an English teacher in Damascus, Syria. People are often shocked to hear that I migrated to Syria, when so many people are migrating from Syria. Syria is widely portrayed as one of the most dangerous places in the world by media and by political forces. While it is certainly true that many Syrians have faced immense hardship in recent years, I view living in Syria in much the same way that my European friends view working or studying in the Americas: I am seeking new opportunities, new connections, new visions of the beauty of humankind. I see beyond the media and political portrayal of Syria as a dangerous place.

Admittedly, I was drawn to reside in Syria because my father is Syrian. As I mentioned, I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. I spent all of my school years in Sofia, and I have good friends and memories there. My childhood also included annual summer visits to Syria, where my father's parents reside. Those summer vacations were full of joy and laughter: my brother and I felt free, spending all our time playing outside with the neighbourhood kids. However, beyond my beautiful childhood memories, I went to Syria as an adult to exercise my Right to Freedom of Movement. I have the right to travel within a country, the right to leave any country, and the right to enter a country of which I am a citizen. So, I am executing my right and demonstrating that this right should be accessible for all human beings everywhere.

Many of my friends from European countries are exercising their Right to Freedom of Movement! They migrate to the Americas for educational opportunities and better employment. They travel to South-East Asia and Africa in order to see the beauty of different cultures. Nowadays, there are even tourists in Syria, wandering the streets of Damascus with voyeuristic curiosity to see what has happened and what is happening in a country that survived 10 years of war.

For that matter, citizens of the European Union enjoy some of the greatest Freedom of Movement anywhere in the world, with the ability to traverse open borders across the continent (at least until COVID shut everything down). Yet, those same Europeans (and Canadians and Americans) with powerful passports[1] deny the access to their countries that they enjoy in the rest of the world.

None of us should forget that migration has existed for as long as humankind has walked on Earth. Although everyone has their own reasons for migrating, the outcomes are often the same: new experiences, new relationships, new challenges, and new beauty. In this moment when rights to migration have become a hot topic globally, it is time to create a new discourse. Migration should not be viewed as a right of some or a threat to others, but rather fundamental to the human experience.


Footnotes

[1] For more on strong and weak passports, read “Every Passport Has a Story” by Correspondent Fortunat Miarintsoa Andrianimanana https://correspondentsoftheworld.com/story/every-passport-has-a-story 


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Kamelia Khalil

Kamelia Khalil

My name is Kamelia Khalil, 25 years old and born in the city of Sofia, Bulgaria. I'm currently an English teacher in Damascus, Syria.

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