CARRBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – Before all the recent concern regarding Syrian refugees emerged, people from Syria had found safe harbor in the U.S. without incident. Zack Rushk was one of them.
“I decide to leave before they arrest me again,” said Rushk.
Rushk has been through more in his 33 years than most us go through in a lifetime. He is Kurdish, from Syria. And that he said meant he was treated like a second class citizen.
“We not allowed to speak our own language and we not allowed to teach our kids or anyone the Kurdish language,” Rushk said.
Rushk told WNCN he helped organize some secret lessons for his neighbors. And for that he was thrown in jail for seven months. Once free, the college-educated engineer said the government went after him and his family.
“They tried to find other things about me and they bother my family so much,” Rushk said.
And getting here to Carrboro was no easy task for him. He said he started the process back in 2005. Then from Syria he went to Lebanon for five years before finally arriving here in the US in 2010.
Church World Service is the group that helped Rushk assimilate; find housing, a job, and learning to speak English.
“Refugees are the most carefully screened, carefully scrutinized people that enter the United States,” said Ellen Andrews, the Executive Director of Church World Service in Durham said.
Rushk’s wife is now going through that process. He said they grew up together, but married after he moved here.
As for Rushk, he’s already been admitted to the pre-med program at UNC.
“I’m secure now. Secure is a word. I have my own rights so this is the most important things,” Rushk said.