HomeNewsboxOn a New York Tour, Hijabs and a Selfie Stick

On a New York Tour, Hijabs and a Selfie Stick

“We lost everything,” said Hiba Beidak, 34, whose husband ran a pharmacy in the Syrian city of Aleppo. He had thyroid surgery before the war and needs medical care now, as does their 10-year-old daughter, who is unable to walk. Ms. Beidak brought her 6-year-old daughter on the tour.

Ms. Taki’s older sister, Ghosoom Taki, 38, left the city of Homs for Jordan in 2011. She arrived in the United States in July with her five children, ages 3 to 16, and her husband, Tamer Khawog. They live in Elizabeth, N.J.

“At first, I was very depressed, and I was placed in a hotel in an industrial area,” Ghosoom Taki said. “I thought, ‘Is this America?’ Four days later, when my sister came, we were in the same hotel; I felt there was hope, things are going to get better.”

Her two daughters, Hebah, 13, and Hayat, 12, speak English. Hayat wants to be a doctor.

Rihab Taki’s family lives three miles away in Roselle, N.J. Her teenage sons do not speak English. Laila Elfane, the refugee coordinator for ICNA Relief, said their apartment had bedbugs for months. The International Rescue Committee said it was addressing the problem and working to find a new home for the family.

The tour, on a sun-splashed day, was a revelation for the sisters, their first time in the city.

“I feel like all the negativity is melting away,” Rihab Taki said.


Members of the group played on the rocks in Central Park, one of many stops on the tour.

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

“I am discovering another side of America, not like Elizabeth,” her sister said.

The day started at 10 a.m. in front of Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. After introductions, with translation from Ms. Elfane, they walked up Seventh Avenue into Times Square’s electric frenzy.

Soon, the families were on a subway to Central Park. Tynan Hooker-Haring, 31, a musician and stagehand, gave up his seat so they could sit together.

“It’s awesome to see new neighbors being more confident, more conspicuous members of our community and not being afraid to embrace their new home,” Mr. Hooker-Haring said, adding, “the same way we should not be afraid to embrace our new neighbors.”

During the ride, Mr. Miller, who used to entertain children at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, mesmerized Ibrahim and Hamzah, the sisters’ 9-year-old sons, with magic tricks.

At the Central Park Zoo, the group watched the sea lions. After climbing the rocks, the children lined up at the Central Park carousel. Their $3 tickets bore a familiar name: Trump. (In 2010, Mr. Trump restored the carousel, and his company signed a lease through 2020 to operate it.)

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