Amal Hanano in Foreign Policy:
Being from Aleppo is unlike being from anywhere else in the world. We walked on history so deep, we did not understand it — we simply learned to call this place, older than all others, home. We grew up knowing that our insignificant existence was the thinnest layer of dust on the thick geological strata of empires, kingdoms, and generations, which lived within our stone walls. We knew without doubt, from an early age, that we were nothing but a blink of our city's eye.
When you are from Aleppo, you are plagued with a predicament: Nothing here will ever change. For some people, living in the city that never changes becomes too difficult. The city's permanence and your inability to make a mark on it push you to eventually leave Aleppo, trading comfort for change. After you leave, no matter where you are in the world, you know that Aleppo is there, waiting exactly as you left it. Instead, it is you who returns in a reinvented form each time you come home — a university graduate, a bride, a mother, each time proudly carrying your new ideas and identity to your patiently waiting city.
In Aleppo, you grow up worrying if your legacy will ever be worthy of your city's. But you never worry about your city's legacy — which we thoughtlessly leaned on — for how could we, ever, change Aleppo's legacy?