How I Got Here: Before I left Damascus I wondered: ‘Trenton, New Jersey … what is that?’

ESPMI Network

4015 When I landed in New York City, I remember thinking I had never seen so many lights in my life.’ Photograph: Adel Korkor

I held on to the telegram for a few minutes before I opened it. The mail man delivered it in a grey, wrinkly envelope. The message was from America and it read “The medical residency program director agreed to offer you a position as an intern. I will see you soon.”

It was 1974 and I was standing on the marble entrance hall to our apartment on Porto Alegre Street in Damascus. My mother, who was baking in the kitchen, asked what the mailman delivered. I told her I got a job in America. She went on completing what she was doing and showed no emotions.

I stood by the kitchen door pondering. I had really wanted to go to England. America was so far away and…

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