Reflection on Transition from Syria to Wales
Change is inevitable, and everybody strives to take a step forward by changing how they do things. Many factors, including war, prompts the need for change. An unstable country may make one need to transit from one area to another in search of peace. Nonetheless, the process of crossing into a new location is marked by denial, depression, letting go of the past, testing new ways of earning a living, consolidating them, and internalizing them into profitable if the change is to bring success in the long run. Despite the need to look for peace, challenges such as language barriers and culture shock engulf a refugee. This paper presents a reflective story of how I transited from Syria to Wales four years ago and how I found peace in Wales.
In my native country, Syria, the war began as a civil war between citizens and the government over the presidential rule. By the time the war was commencing, I was almost completing my high school left with only five months. I lived with my parents and siblings in Damascus, one of Syria’s capital cities (Misachi, 2016). It is one of the cities where there were intense war and so life there was terrible. Speaking of peace, we never knew it.
Due to the insecurity and little peace that prevailed in the country, in 2016, my parents thought of transiting from Damascus to a more peaceful nation, and they concluded on Wales, one of the big cities in the United Kingdom (Gruffudd, n.d.). From rumors that I used to hear from people, Wales was a composed city with peace and many developments. As a student, I was tired of missing many school days due to our community’s insecurity, and I longed to leave it for a peaceful area. In high school, my dream was to become a successful business person and offer employment opportunities to people. However, I knew I could not fulfill the goal in war and an insecure city as entrepreneurship requires a peaceful macro environment (Wim, 2007).
After completing my high school course, my family and I began plans for entering the new city of Wales. My interest was in having a radical change that would see us in a completely different peaceful environment. As (Petersen, Boer, & Gertsen, 2004) explains, radical change involves modifying social structures. In our case, it meant going to an entirely new city rather than waiting for the war to cease in Syria. At the end of it all, we were finally in Wales. The change was significant to me and my dreams. First, I always dreamt of enjoying a peaceful environment once in my life. Secondly, I was a business lover who aspired to have a series of successful companies; thus, transiting to a relaxed atmosphere was vital. It was an overwhelming moment for me, and only tears of joy rolled from my eyes during the fight to Wales. It suggested that they were leaving for Wales because of peace issues from how other people in the flight behaved.
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Even though my heart was filled with happiness (Hayes, 2018) in his Bridges model of transition explained, change incorporates three stages; ending, neutral, and beginning zones. He says that the ending stage involves letting go of the old memories to accommodate new things. Until one forgets the past, it might not be easy to accommodate new pursues. Therefore, I had to forego all the good memories I encountered in Damascus, such as my friends, my good neighbors, diving into a nearby ocean with my friends, and all the fun I had. It was hard to let go of such memories as psychologists say (Nørby, Lange, & Larsen, 2010). However hard it was, I had to accept change.
The transition impacted on me in both positive and negative aspects. Hayes described the neutral zone of change involves disorientation, doubt, and anxiety, but it can also offer room for creativity (Hayes, 2018). The stage that forced me to completely let go of everything and try ways to fit into society. One challenge that I encountered in Wales is the language barrier. Back in Syria, I was only used to speaking in my native language that the U.K people did not understand. Also, I never used to understand their language. It was hard to communicate when I tried to establish relationships, mostly since I had lost most of my friends due to the transition. Also, the issue of culture was another challenge I encountered. The types of food they ate, the clothes they wore, how they used to do their recreational activities were much very different from the culture in Syria. I remember one morning, as I tried to talk to my neighbors, one little white boy shrugged and showed no interest in mine. He told his older brother, who I was trying to associate with these words, “Do not want to be associated with these people because they are insecure and will fight you.” What a slap on the face just while I thought I would find happiness in the new country.
That was the beginning of my challenges and many more followed as I could not associate with school mates, neighbors, and the community due to language and cultural barriers. The culture shock was central, as it was hard to conceptualize the new culture. The stage that (Hayes, 2018) described as marked by depression, denial, and anxiety was the feeling that told me at that moment. He explained that transition to a new area is characterized by becoming depressed due to culture shock, language barriers, and other challenges associated with change. However, despite all these challenges, one day in my usual activities of going for a ride, I came across a group of teenagers of my age, who were on the same mission of recreational as me. There, I joined them, and to my surprise, they were from Syria and had come to Wales two years before me.
They were cheerful and welcomed me into their circle. I was impressed because, finally, I had gotten people who were welcoming and human. That was the beginning of my peace and happiness in Wales. To manage the language barrier and culture shock situations, I had to immerse myself into the teenagers’ circle and learn how they handled the challenges when they came to Wales. In the process, I identified one great man in the group by the name George. George was a calm and talkative person simultaneously. His discussions in the group impacted me significantly as he talked about how he overcame the same challenges I had. I befriended him, and I was able to learn more about countering language barriers and culture shock. From his experiences, I developed strategies to test the same to internalize the changes. (Hayes& Hyde, 1996) in their stages described the beginning stage of transition as a period marked with testing, consolidation, and internalization.
Hayes explains that the beginning stage involves a person testing new coping steps with the challenges engulfing them. When the actions are consolidated and work effectively, they internalize them and practice them to succeed (Nagaoka, Farrington, Ehrlich, & Heath, 2015). Therefore, I had to start practicing Wales’ culture as George had advised me to fit in society and enjoy peace, success, and happiness. As sociologists put it, accepting and appreciating other people’s culture is essential for the peace to prevail (Gardner, 2006). After a few months of buying the new culture and enjoying it, I interacted with other people I thought was hostile. The critical thing was avoiding being ethnocentric and appreciating Wales’s community culture. In the fourth month, I was already into their foods, clothes, and I found them fascinating. It made me begin mingling with people, and I could see my dream of setting up a business in the city come true.
In conclusion, from experience, I learned that transiting to a new place as a refugee calls for an individual preceding their culture and past experiences to fit in the new society and experience peace and happiness (Dobson, 2004). Also, paying attention to what other people can help a refugee overcome the challenges they face as I listened to George. If such a situation rules again, I will not hesitate to learn new cultures such as language, food, and clothes not to encounter the challenges I faced in Wales. I can apply the lessons I have learned in a workplace by appreciating my colleagues’ cultures to run relationships positively and fit in the organization. Business experts say that appreciating colleagues’ culture is essential for an organization’s success as it promotes teamwork (Salas, Shuffler, Thayer, Bedwell, & Lazzara, 2014).
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