Central New York, Community, Syracuse

How Two Twin Girls Found Their Third “Mother” on Syracuse’s North Side

Nidaa (left) and Fidaa Aljabbarin (right) are in their senior year, waiting to finalize their college decisions. Two of the schools they applied to were Onondaga Community College and Syracuse University. © Lianza Reyes 2018

Click the play button to learn another story of the North Side Learning Center – staff member Fatuma Diriye and her journey from student to teacher.

Audio Transcript: Fatuma_Profile

By Lianza Reyes, SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — When Nidaa and Fidaa Aljabbarin tell their classmates at Public Leadership Service Academy at Fowler that they are twins, they’re usually met with surprise.

Fidaa is often distinguished for her redder hair, which has earned her the nickname of‘ “fire.” Nidaa, according to the two girls, is more serious and studious

“We are totally different, there’s not really anything [that is similar between us],” Fidaa said.

However, what they probably will have forever in common is their story, and how they found home in the Syracuse North Side.

When war broke out in their Syrian home in 2011, it became difficult to support the family. With two of their siblings having developmental disabilities, the Aljabbarins moved to Jordan before arriving to Syracuse in 2016. There, just right across the street of their home, was the North Side Learning Center, a center dedicated to providing support for newcomers in the community.

Nidaa and Fidaa started attending the North Side Learning Center to learn better how to adjust to a new school, culture, and language.

The girls usually attend the North Side Learning Center, an education center aimed towards refugees and immigrants, up to three times a week. © Lianza Reyes 2018

“When I first started, they were very shy and needed a lot of help. But now, they don’t even need a lot of assistance anymore. They’re really bright,” Dina Eldawy, a student volunteer who the girls, said.

Today, the two girls are preparing to go to college. Both have aspirations in the medical field: Fidaa hopes to go into nursing while Nidaa hopes to go to medical school. And though both girls say they miss their home, Syracuse has become another home for them.

“That’s my third mother. My first mother is Syria, then Jordan, and then Syracuse,” Nidaa said.