Connecting Neighbors: Rida Shoorbajee

Rida Shoorbajee’s father originally came from the Ottoman Empire, which is in today’s country of Turkey. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Shoorbajee family settled in Syria, where Rida’s parents met. Eventually Rida’s father’s job led him to the United States. After losing that job in 2005, his new job offered him an opportunity to return his family to Syria.

Rida tells memories during those early years in Syria. He remembers it being a good life until the war began. He still carries the memories of war today. In 2013 the family moved back to the United States.

Rida recalls always having a problem with fitting in. In Syria he was looked at as being too American. In America, he was looked at being too Syrian. Those times proved quite difficult. He says he feels fortunate to have experienced both worlds as it gives him a better perspective of both sides. He has a better understanding of why Syrians misunderstand Americans and American misunderstand Syrians. He says,

It’s important that we talk more to each other, but that can be difficult. There is fear of saying or doing something that will be taken wrong. I and people in my situation find it best to stay quiet and go about life, which results in a disconnection.

He would like to see that change.

So how did Rida end up in Cache Valley? After a couple of failed attempts at going to college, Rida began working a job at an airport as a baggage handler. Being taken in by watching airplanes, Rida knew he wanted to become a pilot. He applied to Utah State University and was accepted. Having lived in fear of people often having biased opinions of people from the Middle East, his family had great concerns for him being so far away, but they did come to accept his decision. Rida says his experience in Cache Valley has been good for the most part.

He desires to have people see that all Muslims do believe in peace and are not terrorists. He says that he does not believe in violence, nor is it what the Quran teaches. He gives us an explanation of the true meaning of jihad and that it does not condone terrorism. He is hopeful that platforms such as this will help bring people together with an understanding that they can find common ground and hopefully help to tear down prejudicial walls.

To contact Rida Shoorbajee for a speaking engagement, email [email protected].

1 reply
  1. Kirk Peterson
    Kirk Peterson says:

    Thanks Rida. I really enjoyed listening to your presentation on Cache Community Connections. I graduated from USU in education and taught in 8 countries around the world at international schools. I spent 15 years teaching in Saudi Arabia and most recently in China. When I retired from teaching overseas, I returned to Cache Valley and became involved with the USU International Friends program. I’m so pleased to have found out about Cache Community Connections today! Best regards, Kirk K. Peterson


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