Helped by a Syrian

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The train ride to Verden from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was stressful. I missed my connection in Hilversum and had to wait two hours for the next connection. It was 29 degrees outside and I was sweating, overdressed in grey sweatpants and a long t-shirt over a pink tank top. Needless to say, my luggage was very heavy and I found it quite the challenge to carry it around everywhere. I then spent the remainder of my journey to Verden, struggling to find my next connections and cursing vehemently under my breath.

I was incredibly relieved to have finally arrived in Verden, albeit well past 8 o’clock at night. I was thankful I had to change trains only twice en route to Rosenheim, but I was not looking forward to carrying my heavy suitcase.

When I got on the train in Verden, Sunday morning of September 18th, I was a little dismayed to find a set of stairs leading to the sitting area. So I stood for several minutes, trying to come up with a way to haul my suitcase down the stairs without hurting myself. I contemplated sitting in the exit way when a young, Syrian man, about my age, got out of his seat, walked up to me and carried my luggage down the stairs for me.

I thanked him in my broken German. He could speak German well. I could not tell if he was a German resident or a migrant, judging by his torn grey jeans and black shirt that looked well-worn. He had kind eyes, but sad eyes that told a story of a young foreigner who had struggled a lot to find his way in Germany.

When I found out that he had to get off at Hannover Hbf to catch his next connection, I was relieved. When we got off the train in Hannover, he beckoned me to follow him which I did. He led me down an escalator, through the busy station, over to another escalator where we had to go up in order to get to the platform to catch the next train to Munich.

I discovered he was also going to Munich, but was leaving on a later train. He reached into his backpack and pulled out a package of cigarettes. He offered one to me, but I politely told him in my best German that I do not smoke. Since we had some time on our hands, we wandered over to a seating area close by and sat down. The Syrian opened his backpack once again and pulled out a package of biscuits. He gave some to me and then offered them to another gentleman who was sitting beside me, but that man coolly refused his offer.

The time slowly ticked away, the platform was filling up with people, eager to get to Munich to participate in Oktober Fest. The young man took out his phone and phoned his mother back in Syria. He kept his head down while he talked to her. At one point, I noticed his eyes were a little red. Was that from the cigarette smoke, or was he crying? I really couldn’t tell. But he looked so sad, I felt badly for him. Our eyes connected for one brief moment. His eyes told me he didn’t want me to leave. I wanted to say something to him, but I didn’t know what to say and I had only a few minutes until my train came. There was not much I could have done, but I still think of that young, Syrian man from time to time and truly hope he finds his way in this country.

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