HIGH POINT, N.C. -- When Noor Ghazi walks into the coffee shop, she looks like most well-educated, successful young American women.
But when she starts telling her story, you know her life has been very different.
“Why people don't know about this? This is huge,” she says, with passion.
“There are so many lessons,” she continues, as you see her thoughts drift off and her voice begin to soften with painful remembrance.
Noor lived what seemed like a happy life in her early years, growing up in Baghdad. But when war began to break out – and then, secular war among factions of Muslims in Iraq, her father thought it was wise to leave, just for a while – take the family to Syria (well before the civil war began there) until things calmed down. After all, they were in a bit of a tough position since father was a Sunni Muslim and her mother, a Shia – though they never talked about those differences growing up. But the move to Syria didn’t work out as her father had hoped.
“My dad could not find a job, we ran out of money,” she said. “When we left Iraq we barely had our clothes with us, so we did not get to get anything and life was so hard to manage in Syria.”
Her family was able to get refugee status to come to America in 2008, when Noor was 18, but they always yearned for home.
“I have this struggle of identity, like, 'Where's home? Who am I? Am I fully Iraqi? am I fully American?'” she says.
What she does know about identity is that, in her mind, ISIS is a fraud.
“My personal view is ISIS is a big gang and they're not Muslim,” Noor said.
But as she and her husband enjoy raising their daughter in High Point, as Noor pursues her master’s degree in peace and conflict studies, they know that if they do stay in America, Iraq won’t be far from their thoughts.
“Eventually, it was always a dream that whatever I'm doing here, it was for my return and what could I offer my country? How could I rebuild Iraq,” she said.
See video of Noor’s recent return to her homeland in this edition of The Buckley Report.