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Syrian Youth Perform at Refugee Camp


All six of them, wearing black T-shirts, jeans and caps turned to the side, jumped on the stage dancing to music.

Meet the B-Boyz breakdancers.

They are young people who have fled the war in Syria with their families. They recently sang and danced in a talent show in the large Arbat refugee camp in the Kurdistan area of northern Iraq.

The show was organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR.

Arzhin Baruda was one of the performers. He had practiced for weeks with his friends. He said he wanted to tell people through his performance that even though he is a refugee, he still has talent. He and his friends learned many of their dance moves by watching videos on the internet.

Baruda is one of almost 8,000 young Syrian refugees living in the Suleymania area. Most of them do not attend classes because their parents do not have the money to pay for the schooling.

Hundreds of refugee families watched the show, which lasted for a few hours. It was a chance to forget how far from home they are.

UNHCR worker Marco Rotunno helped organize the event. He said it was a chance for young performers to show that they are more than just refugees.

He said when he told people about it “there (was) a light in their eyes.” He said they thought “Oh, I can do something, I want to participate.”

Rojbeen Abdelaziz is a 17-year-old dancer who has been in the camp for two years. She says the event gave her a chance to show the power of girls. She says boys are considered more important than girls. She says boys can dance everywhere and anytime, but girls cannot.

So she helped create a group called “A-B-C-D.” Its letters stand for “Any Body Can Dance.” The five teenage girls learned how to dance from watching Bollywood movies. Those are movies made in India that have many dancing scenes in them.

Abdelaziz said it was not easy to get her mother’s permission to dance. Her teammates said it was probably the last time they would be able to dance in public.

Abdelaziz said the performance changed her life. She says members of her family in Syria called her and said they had seen her on YouTube and Facebook. She says “that makes me happy.”

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA Correspondent Sharon Behn reported this story from the Arbat refugee camp in Iraq. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

breakdancing – n. a type of dancing in which a dancer performs very athletic movements that involve touching the ground with various parts of the body (such as the head or back)

talent – n. a special ability that allows someone to do something well

move – n. an act of moving your body or a part of your body

scene – n. a part of a play, movie, story, etc., in which a particular action or activity occurs

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