Escaping Terrorists: An MSUM Student’s Journey to the U.S.

23-year-old Varseen Khalil left Iraq with her family when she was a teenager

MOORHEAD, Minn. — The fears for one MSUM student go far beyond tests and presentations.

She left her home country of Iraq when she was just a teen to flee terrorists who were threatening her family.

The panic is still there as her relatives back home live in a state of war.

Varseen Khalil is like most college students. She’s working hard to earn a degree.

But for the 23-year-old, she’s seen more than what most people have seen in their lives.

“We’re in hiding for a little bit,” says Varseen.

She was only 13 or 14 when her family left her home in Iraq for a better life in the U.S.

They moved to Florida first and then to Moorhead. Her dad worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army.

Varseen says, “His life got into danger. He protected a couple of his commanders and he got shot a couple of times but then our life kind of got in danger because of a couple incidents that happened with him.”

And even though they’ve started over in a new country she’s proud to be a part of, she still has relatives who didn’t make it out.

“They live in fear every single second, not just because my uncle is a volunteer firefighter in Syria because they don’t know when ISIS is going to hit Iraq,” added Varseen.

Her uncle is in Syria, while her grandmother and a couple of aunts are still in Iraq.

She says there’s nothing she can do to help get them to the U.S.

Varseen says, “They want to make sure the country is safe, not just them being safe because we don’t think just for our self. We think for the whole country.”

According to Varseen, that’s just the Kurdish way.

When President Trump announced he was withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria to Iraq, she says her family felt betrayed.

“It just felt like we had a warm rug under us and they just basically took it out,” says Varseen.

She fears that there’s a misconception about who the Kurds really are and says, “the Kurds are not terrorists.”

She explains that there are multiple religions within her country, including Muslim and that doesn’t automatically make you a terrorist.

“It doesn’t matter what you believe as a religion. Your religion is still going to teach you to not kill somebody else,” says Varseen.

There’s a hope that one day she’ll be able to visit her homeland without the fear that she’s going to die.

“My dream is to have my country back which is for peace to become one peace.”

As she walks the halls of MSUM, she knows that there are others out there still living in a tense time, where depression, sadness and sickness take over. It might be another world many thousands of miles away but we’re still much the same.

Varseen says, “We are still human. We still feel the things. We still have the same ideas and they deserved to be saved.”

Varseen is a sophomore at MSUM and hopes to graduate by 2022.

She recently spoke at an event last weekend in Moorhead with other Kurdish Americans.
They held a peaceful protest where the group marched to Veteran’s Bridge.

Categories: Community, Local News, Minnesota News, Moorhead