International students Melhem and Samir Boueri ’16 are living in America for the first time.
It didn’t take much for Melhem and Samir Boueri ’16 to find home in Riverdale.
Walking into Smith Auditorium, 6-foot-7-inch Melhem could almost reach up and touch the Lebanese flag hanging from the balcony amid the others that represent every home country of Manhattan College’s students.
“There it is,” he says, pointing at a red and green flag. “Right above the door. The one with the cedar tree.”
His twin brother Samir started looking for the flag of Dubai.
These incoming freshmen are citizens of the world, with as many homes as stamps in their packed passports. The Boueris were born in Lebanon, moved to Ghana as children, returned to Lebanon and then spent 11 years in Dubai. June was their first trip to America.
“I didn’t want to leave [New York],” says Melhem, a finance major.
“I was worried about it, but it feels like home,” adds Samir, a biochemistry major. “It’s only been two days, but it feels like home already.”
During high school, the two attended the International School of Arts and Sciences in Dubai and, like many young people in the country, decided to pursue college in the United States.
Their father and school counselor recommended Manhattan College as a perfect fit for the pair who enjoy the close-knit feeling of community, but are akin to city dwelling and mile-high skyscrapers similar to the ones back home.
“I love it,” Samir says. “The people are very friendly, the campus is very nice.”
“And it’s a small community. It’s like a family,” Melhem adds.
Off-campus, the two love the rush of the city and can’t wait to do more sightseeing with Student Activities.
“SoHo,” they say in unison, without skipping a beat.
“We love SoHo. It has everything,” Melhem says.
Well, maybe not everything. Dubai, after all, is home to the world’s tallest building, an indoor ski resort and man-made islands shaped like palm trees.
But these new New Yorkers are happy to trade in extravagance for simple goals this school year.
“Getting good grades and meeting good people,” Samir says, eager to seek out friends in the international community.
Avid basketball fans, Melhem and Samir also look forward to cheering on the Jaspers and perhaps joining an intramural team.
While their parents and uncle returned to Dubai after helping them move-in, the twins started unpacking their new life together, bunking in a family-owned house in Riverdale.
And although four years into the future seems like a long time away, Melhem and Samir say they are open to starting careers in New York, Dubai or perhaps adding a few more stamps to their passports first.
“I’m open to anywhere with a good opportunity,” Melhem says.