Abdulwahab Tareel is 27 years old and lives in Cyprus. This is a translation of the transcript of his story:
"I am Abdulwahab Tareel. I am a 27-year old Syrian from Aleppo City. I have two university degrees, one in administration and accounting, and one in Islamic studies and law.
I was always ambitious to continue my studies and that is what pushed me to do many internships and take courses in Syria so I could develop and refine my personality. I did everything that could help me fulfill my dream to continue my studies in a European country or a developed country where my qualifications are accepted so I can obtain a higher degree of scientific knowledge.
Of course, my ambition is the reason why I worked in good places in Syria. I worked from 2013 to 2015 for a very important and large educational institution called the International Civilization Foundation. After that, I moved to work at a TV channel where I was responsible for marketing and public relations. This also enhanced my personality and helped my communication and on-site work skills. I volunteered in a number of community institutions, mostly charitable associations and institutions that are concerned with society in Syria. In 2015, I left for Cyprus to continue my studies. I came here around the beginning of 2017 to live in a new society. It was relatively new to me as a Syrian because it is a European society and I from an Eastern society which is somewhat different. All the previous experiences that I endured in Syria helped me to get through this new challenge in Cyprus, especially the first period, and this pushed me more to pursue my studies.
I found Neapolis university where I enrolled in a business administration program, and at the end of my studies in 2018, I started looking for jobs. This brought me closer to Cypriot society. I was looking for an opportunity where I could put what I had studied to use and was part of my speciality.
Of course, my master's degree is in real estate. My ambition, my dream, and my hope was to find an opportunity in this field because Cyprus is a tourist country with well-developed real estate.
At the end of 2018, I met Demitris Marathivtis. When I entered the real estate office, I met directly with the owner of the company, the general manager, and this helped me get an instant business interview. I met the right person and talked to the manager, Demiters, about myself, my expertises and experiences. Suddenly, five minutes into our first meeting, he interrupted me and said: “You are accepted and we want to hire you at the company”. I was thrilled that I had been accepted into a large and important company which was known to be the largest real estate agent in the Cypriot city of Paphos. I was also glad that I had found work within the field of my expertise.
The man who interviewed me told me that he had been in the real estate business for a long time and he could sense from a simple conversation that I would be successful in the future and was a good fit for the job.
I was very happy at this point that he believed in my abilities even before he had witnessed my work or looked at my previous experience. I said to Mr. Dimitris: “Would you like me to show you my certificates? I have enrolled in more than 35 courses in different disciplines in the sales and self-development fields, ultimately anything related to body language, resource management, English etc.” Demetris told me that there was no need as he had already hired me. He did not want to see anything because he trusted what I had told him and believed that I was good at what I do.
What happened raised my self-confidence level and made extremely happy. At that moment, I felt part of Cypriot society as it had helped me so that I could help myself by having a job and really good status in the field that I was very ambitious about.
The moment I remember the most during that interview is when Mr. Demetris said: “Abdulwahab, I want to offer you a position in my company with the same salary as any employee here. I do not care if you are Syrian, refugee or have a different nationality. I am a man who believes in humanity so you will be paid just like any other employee”.
I have been working in this company for a year and a half now, and what he told me showed throughout this time. I do not remember the exact details, but during my time working with him, this guy has never insulted me or been racist towards me. He even says “please” when he assigns me to any work! Maybe these are very minor details and not that important, but they touched my heart and encouraged me to always perform to the best of my ability and make a huge effort for my company.
My home country is Syria and it is so dear to me. We call it “the mother country”, which means that I love it like I love my mother, but my host country, Cyprus, has my love like the love between a man and his wife. I have so much love for the country that gave me all I needed to grow as a person, helped me broaden my thinking and helped me fulfill my dreams by acquiring knowledge through my masters degree. I also got married here in Cyprus, and I was so happy that the guests at my wedding were mostly my Cypriot friends.
I believe that the easiest way for a person, whether a refugee or a stranger, to blend in with Cypriot or European society is through seeking knowledge in general. This goal drives the person in front of you to take care of you, and makes him understand that you put a lot of effort into learning the language or about the country, and makes him appreciate your efforts.
I always feel that Cypriot society welcomes me and takes care of me because I am invested in creating a good relationship with it.
I am Abdulwahab Tareel, 27 years old, and that is my story."