How Far is Home

The American Dream. It seems like most on this planet are pursuing it or wanting some kind of facsimile of it. It used to be attainable. Not anymore with the present government. To say it is not immigrant friendly is a gross understatement. Apo W. Bazidi’s short documentary provides some insight into what it is like for young immigrants who do arrive in the country.

Two teenage refugee siblings from Iraq have settled in Cleveland, Ohio. They are dealing with learning a new language, adapting to the cultural differences, trying to make a life in their new country, and adjusting to leaving their family behind.

Ahmed and his sister Ruba are attending high school in Cleveland. It is a special high school. Thomas Jefferson School has been established to aid in the adaptation to their new home for recently arrived immigrants to the U.S.

It has grades kindegarten to 12. Meant to be a transition place for new immigrants. They go to school there a couple of years, until they are comfortable in their new surroundings and then they move on to a “regular” school.

Both younger sibling Ahmed, who wants to become an x-ray technician, and Ruba, who has aspirations of going to college, are working in different ways to make a life for themselves. They have dreams and want to contribute just like everyone else. They work hard. Ahmed works evenings at a restaurant as a busboy to earn money. The immigration policies of the present American government hang like shadows over everything they attempt.

The atmosphere for immigrants in the United States has not been a great one ever, but worse of late. The Trump presidency has been marked, amongst other awful things, with blatant racism and overt anti-immigrant policies. Bazidi’s film demonstrates that who is getting most hurt by these policies are young people. These are who the U.S. government are afraid of? Who they are trying to keep out?

A film like this is not only timely, it is of vital importance. Demonstrating how imperative it is to show the beauty of cultural interactions. Also shows how much these young people have to offer. Space has to be made for them.

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