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Interview with Mohammad Talat Asmar

Asmar, Mohammad
Mjahed, Khalil
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Overcoming obstacles; Cultural identification; Tolerance and respect
Mohammad Asmer talks about moving to the USA, school and differences, 9/11 and his treatment at CPCC and his dreams of being a dentist.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Khalil Mjahed interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
KM (Khalil Mjahed): Khalil Bou Mjahed now with you again, and I am going to conduct an interview with Mohammad Asmar from Palestine.
MA (Mohammad Asmar): Hello, my name is Mohammad Talat Asmar. Palestinian in origin. As I told you, I am originally from Palestine, but I have lived in the United Kingdom of Emirates, and it is a country that lies between Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman. I was born in the province of Dubai on 01-14-1981, and I lived there, and studied there since I was, from when I was born till the age of fourteen. I used to go on vacations to Palestine and Jordan, and Jordan is a country next to Palestine. Then at the age of fifteen I came here to Gastonia because my dad and uncles were living here since 1976. As I told you, in 1976-, um, my dad used to travel between America, Emirates, Jordan, and Palestine. He used to go visit, but most of his work was in Emirates. My uncle migrated here in 1976, he started studying at UNCC, and he studied Architectural Engineering. In 1996, my two older brothers migrated, and after my two older brothers migrated, we came here and lived in Belmont city in 1996. And in that year, in 1996, I started school in high school, high school, South Point High School, and it was a very pleasant experience for me. Um, when I used to go to school, ride in the bus, I mean I tried to listen. I didn't speak English that well, I mean I studied in Dubai, but I used to study the basics, I mean in a different accent. So I tried to listen to what the students said, and tried to learn from them day after day. I felt that their way of life differs a little bit from our way of life, but I mean I liked it and I learned English in a quick time, which was a month and a half. I almost understood most of what they said. In school, the way of teaching here is different than the way of teaching in Emirates. They, about dressing, um, in Emirates you have to dress in a certain costume to school. What I liked here is that you have the freedom to wear whatever you want. I studied at South Point from the tenth grade until I graduated. Um, the treatment of teachers and students to us was excellent because we were the minority in the school, and I graduated in 1999. Um, so in the year of 1999, all of my life I've always thought about studying architectural engineering, but when I came here and saw the method of teaching and knew that the medical and law fields are some of the best professions here, I decide to study to be a dentist. And when I first started, I went to a university in Belmont. So I went to Belmont Abbey College. My dad liked for me to go to that university because it was almost close to the house. I wanted to go the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, UNCC, because my uncle studied in it first of all. So I went to Belmont Abbey College and studied there for around a year, then I went and transferred to CPCC because my older brother studied in it in '96 when he first came here. Um, in the college-, so I said I'll finish my basic classes there then I'll go back and transfer to UNCC. And that is what happened, I studied there around a year and a half and I met a lot of Arabic students at UNCC, and Khalil Bou Mjahed was one of them. And we took classes with each other. And I mean CPCC's atmosphere was nice, I met a lot of students from a lot of countries, and it was a very nice experience to me. The treatment of the students was good, and the teacher's was good until the horrible events happened in 9-11. The treatment of students and teachers changed into a different way, a big way. Um, we were against the things that have happened, I mean for sure against it, I mean nobody would like anybody to get harmed in any possible way. So, I even remember in one of the classes that I took, I even took it with Khalil and one of our best friends even, which is Khalil's best friend. We took a communication class with a teacher called, um-, ( ). And we did our best in the class, and around two weeks before classes ended the teacher came to us, to me, Khalil, and Nassim, and told us, "Don't expect to pass the class," even though we performed well in class, excellent performance. So we had to go and drop the class. But there were a lot of my American friends and the teachers-, I mean they used to understand the situation, and knew that we had, we have nothing to do with the incidents that had happened. And um, later in the next semester, I transferred to UNCC because I was almost finished with all the classes that I was supposed to take at CPCC. I transferred to UNCC, the treatment of students at UNCC was a good treatment. As I think that the students at UNCC were more understanding to the situation, maybe because they have been amongst us for a while. I mean at UNCC, you see a lot of international students from many countries, and they interacted with them more, and know about their way of life, and their culture. And now it is been around a year at UNCC for me, and um, I love, I love it a lot, and in God's will, I will finish in almost one more year. And after I finish that year at UNCC, in which I finish my, I'll get my Bachelor in Science, I'll finish my pre-med. I will transfer to, I mean in God's will, I mean hopefully they would accept me at University of North Carolina, in Raleigh, in Chapel Hill to finish my major in dentistry. And after, I will finish my major in Oral Surgery, but in God's will, I will work here. And I am thinking in the future to open my clinic here because, first of all, I have my American citizenship, and I mean I will not get this chance that I've already got here. It wouldn't occur to me in any other country because this country is an excellent country and the freedom is nice in it. I mean you can not ask for anything more than this. And this is almost my story from around when I was born until I came here. And thank you, thanks a lot.