Not many students know the feeling of living in a war zone. For Lorca Ali, it’s much too familiar.
Ali, a 20-year-old business administration major, has great plans for his future.
Originally from Syria, Ali has had to adjust and make changes to get the most out of his time in the United States. One of these changes is focusing on bettering himself in different ways.
“It’s less of adjusting, and more of figuring myself out and being better,” says Ali.
Ali applied for many international scholarships and has multiple sponsors in Bluffton. He is interested in learning and having new experiences.
“In school I wasn’t considered normal because I wanted to learn,” says Ali.
Ali has been in the United States since the beginning of August. He says it wasn’t strange coming here because he used to watch American movies and listen to American songs.
“The adjusting process was smooth sort of, but not as easy as I had expected,” says Ali. “My town[in Syria] is similar in ways because people are nice and they rush to help you, but it feels sort of like being on a different planet.”
Ali comes from a town that is smaller in land size than Bluffton but has a much larger population.
“Moving from a war zone to an incredibly peaceful place is a huge transition,” Ali says.
At first Ali didn’t plan to come to Bluffton, he originally planned to attend a school in Germany or Canada.
“I started searching for scholarships in America; there are really good work study programs here,” Ali says. “A few schools weren’t willing to accept Syrian students, which was discouraging for me. Bluffton opened their hands to me, and it was very sweet.”
When researching schools in the United States, Ali was attracted to some of the words on Bluffton’s website.
“I wasn’t familiar with the word ‘Mennonite,’ ” Ali says. “I’m not very religious, but I was attracted to the values of peace and respect. Respect and service were the two that attracted me the most.”
Ali loves to help others and was drawn to Bluffton because of the values the community lives by.
“I was late to school often because I would stop to help an older woman cross the street, or things like that,” Ali says of his time back in Syria.
In Syria, Ali also assisted his aunt’s clothing business by generating marketing strategies.
“I enjoy being in this business environment, before coming here my aunt and friends started a clothing company, so I was helping with the marketing,” says Ali. “I was curious to see how everything goes.”
He is also very interested in nature. In Syria, he lived in a town that was set in the side of the hills. He spent much time outside looking at the stars and walking through nearby woods.
Ali has one older brother, and a younger sister back in Syria. He speaks with his family often.
“It gets a bit tricky because there’s seven hours in time difference between here and Syria,” Ali says.
One of his favorite things to do is ride motorcycles.
“I ride motorcycles. I don’t drive cars much. I love the huge streets, and the big spaces between everything,” Ali says.
He also enjoys how Americans arrange buildings and other spaces.
“Everything is huge, and I like how everything is organized in squares. You can never get lost, although I have gotten lost like four times in Bluffton,” says Ali.
His favorite professor is Gary Schiefer.
“I smile sometimes because of the amount of effort he’s putting into it,” Ali says. “I think I waste like five to ten minutes every class time asking questions. ”
“It is a joy to have Lorca as a student,” says Schiefer. “In addition to being hard working and asking good questions, Lorca brings a unique perspective to the economics classes he has been in.”
He doesn’t plan to stay in the United States after graduating, but does plan to travel often.
“I have a list of the 10 places I’m going to travel to first,” said Ali.
Norway, Spain Italy, Canada, China, Japan, Russia, Greece. Just a few of the places he wants to visit.
“I want to live another life, just for a few months, then move to another place,” Ali says. “I feel like I’m out of time, I’m 21 and I’m just a freshman.”