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Awab Alrawe

Born during the First Gulf War, UO freshman Awab Alrawe grew up in downtown Baghdad. "A kid in my school had a fight with the president's nephew," he recalls. "Four bodyguards came in and he disappeared forever." Alrawe's mother, a petroleum engineer, left her job when he, then his sister Danya, were born. His father, a geologist, quit his job when his pay was cut to $3/mo in '97. The family house had to be sold. "The war was a tough time. You never knew when you'd be killed," says Alrawe. "I kept going to school. The worst year was 2006, maybe three days of school a week." His mother returned to work at the petroleum ministry in '05, but death threats in '07 pushed the family to Syria, where Alrawe finished high school and discovered the Iraqi Student Project, a non-profit that puts Iraqi youth into US colleges. "I worked with the project in Syria for a year," he says. "We volunteered with the UN, the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, many different activities." In Eugene since September, Alrawe lives with host parents Mark Siemens and Jacquie Travis. "Next term I'll take poly sci, French, and Spanish," he says. "I love languages. I'll be teaching Arabic in language circles at the EMU."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 7 January 2010

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