Dorgham Abusalim '12

Beyond borders: Alumnus finds community away from his homeland

Dorgham Abusalim, a 2012 C of I graduate and international political economy major, reflects on his experiences growing up in the Middle East and studying at The College of Idaho.

I grew up in the war-torn Holy Land.

Home for me is the Gaza Strip, Palestine. It remains a shining star that inspires and guides me through life. I believe that my adolescent years were unlike those of most teenagers. Those years not only marked a war that still rages throughout the corners of my home, they also marked the beginning of an ambition.

I still recall the night I talked to Mother about attending high school abroad. “If the Almighty wills it, then it will be, son,” she told me. I was only 13 years-old, and I couldn’t fully comprehend the idea of His will.

Three years later, amidst the lack of food and water, medicine and electricity, a blockade and an ever-growing pool of bloodshed, I received a full merit-based scholarship to attend high school in Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as the borders opened. “You are only 16,” Mother said with the sound of tears in her voice.

Following my first exposure to the world in Bosnia, college was next. I didn’t have a plan in mind. Now, I know that heading to The College of Idaho in Caldwell was unexpected; this is the beauty of it. 

The summer following my junior year at C of I, I returned home. My return reminded me that since I left all I've been doing is taking one leap of faith after another, from Palestine to Bosnia to Idaho. Now, with commencement approaching, I'm once again reminded of the leaps of faith I've taken thus far, and that another one is coming up. I'm not entirely sure what the upcoming leap has in store for me. Will I stay in the United States, or will I return home? These are questions I've been asking myself. I plan to work for an internationally-oriented political and economic institution, maybe a think-tank Washington, D.C. I don’t know how everything will turn out, but I do know that The College of Idaho has prepared me well to take on that next leap of faith, no matter how challenging it turns out to be.

My experience at C of I is beyond remarkable. I never imagined that an institution would have the capacity to nurture my inspiration and provide guidance while I’m thousands of miles away from home. At C of I, my ambitions grow stronger every day and my skills are constantly sharpened under the supervision of a passionate and caring faculty. Every day at C of I is a reminder that I'm not only a student, but also a member of a community committed to lives of excellence.