By Trey Greening
Sami Miri, redshirt soccer player and the only Islamic student on campus, has battled racism often throughout his time in the United States.
Miri is in the Intensive English Language Program, a curriculum designed to help develop English speaking and writing skills. He grew up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and lived there most of his life. Then he moved to El Paso, Texas, where he continued his studies while playing soccer.
Once Miri landed on United States soil, he immediately felt singled out, and worse.
“When I came to the United States, I experienced a lot of racism from different kinds of people that have thoughts about me as a person and my religion,” Miri said, “People start calling me names like terrorist, referring to 9/11, and they would be judging my religon and why I chose to be Muslim.”
The racist comments would not stop in El Paso, as the remarks followed to Hesston College, a school known for its diversity and inclusion.
Due to that struggle and other outside factors, Miri says he does not plan to come back for his sophomore year. He’s still not sure where he’ll go next.
“I’ve gotten a lot of it from different people and that’s the reason why I want to move schools,” Miri said. “But before I do, I want to talk to the people about what kind of family I come from and talk about my culture and most importantly, my religion.”
Miri is described as a bright person on campus, showing love to everyone who he comes in contact with. One of those people is freshman Malli Lemeriwas, Miri’s modmate.
“Sami is cool,” Lemeriwas said. “He treats people with respect. Every time he meets someone new, he smiles at them, says hi, and tells them to have a great day. That is literally Sami. Always grateful to meet somebody new.”
Miri says he’s open to talk about the racist remarks he has heard, but says he doesn’t want to single out one person or mention specific names.
“I feel bad about the remarks that are said to Sami because no one deserves to be treated like that, and Sami doesn’t either,” Lemeriwas said.
Miri says that Hesston’s Student Life Department has made his life a bit calmer and easier for him to keep on going.
“They are always supporting me and they’ve been helping me out,” Miri said.
Even though Miri experienced a lot of racism when he came to the United States, he chose to not worry about what others thought about him, and focused on what he deemed important.
To him, that was soccer.
“Soccer is the game I grew up with,” Miri said. “When I play, I block all the racist stuff out. I don’t care and most importantly, I don’t let it affect my game.”
Since Miri did not play this season due to him having to redshirt, he has thought about his times from playing with his old club team, Rush.
Rush is a national soccer club located in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Maryland, and more.
Miri’s team happened to be one of the best soccer teams in Texas. This alone has inspired Miri to keep on moving forward, and block out the racism he faces.
“At the end of the day, I am so thankful to be born a Muslim, and I am proud of it.”