First Person: Syrian Sisters Dedicated To Music

Monday, January 30, 2017
By Michael Lipkin

President Donald Trump on Friday suspended the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, but for families fleeing violence in Syria, the suspension is indefinite.

There are hundreds of Syrian refugees in San Diego County, including the Chehadeh family. They left Syria in 2012 for Jordan and eventually settled in San Diego in 2014.

Carla Chehadeh, 17, remembers a teacher at her school who was shot and killed in an attack and Christine Chehadeh, 12, recalls huddling in a hallway during a large bomb blast. While they lived in Damascus, the sisters took cello and violin lessons, in part because their parents always regretted never learning themselves.

The family had to leave the sisters' instruments behind when they fled. And in Jordan, never certain of how long they would be staying, Carla and Christine say it didn't make sense to seek out new ones. But once they arrived in the U.S., they quickly took up music again and are now part of the San Diego Youth Symphony.

As part of our First Person series, Carla and Christine explain why continuing to study music means so much to them.