Young Pittsburgh Refugees Share Their Stories: Maryam

Aug 11, 2017

The journey for refugees from their home countries to Pittsburgh often takes years and includes lots of stops along the way. As part of WESA’s five-part series sharing the stories of young refugees, native Iraqi Maryam Nader, 15, talks about her desire to continue her travels and experience other cultures.

Nader is from Iraq, but she’s Kurdish, not Arabic.

“I don’t think anybody knows what are Kurdish,” said Nader. “They just assume they’re the same thing as Turkish, but they’re not. Kurdish have a different language and kind of a different culture.”

Her journey began in third grade when her family moved to Syria for two years, then to Jordan for two more before coming to the United States, where she initially resettled in California.

“Some people just be like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so hard. It must have been really scary,’” but Nader said it wasn’t that frightening. “My family usually just like gets out before anything dangerous can happen. And back then, it wasn’t that bad, especially in Jordan.”

Nader said experiencing a lot of change when you’re young helps you understand different people and become more open-minded. She’s confident she could move to a different country today and be able to adapt.

“I like Pittsburgh, it’s just I would like to go some other places as well, just like New York, Paris, maybe, because I’m so interested in fashion, and I’m taking French as well,” she said.

Nader lives in Greentree, and this year will be a tenth-grader at Brashear High School.

“I’m looking forward for it, and I’m kind of not.” She’s taking challenging courses, because she’s been behind and having some challenges with school. “I’ve been really having this difficulty expressing myself and connecting with others,” she said.

She’s confident about her plans beyond high school. “I’m thinking of becoming a doctor, and after that, a fashion designer,” she said.

“I just really love how we’re created, how each cell in our body needs the other so it can work. Just like our community. We need each other to work.” 

Nader preferred not to have her face shown for personal reasons.