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Hiawatha teen aims to promote global awareness for teens

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HIAWATHA, Iowa (KWWL) -- Zeinh Aboushaar has only spent a 3rd of her life in the United States.

Once a refugee from Syria, Aboushaar made it her goal to help others throughout her life. She's doing that in part by sharing her story.

"You wake up one day and suddenly there's smoke bombs outside, people are storming the streets, your neighbors are on the flood, everybody's screaming," Aboushaar said as she reflected on leaving Syria.

While she didn't want to leave her home, she met the challenge of moving to the US head on. Becoming fluent in English with in 2 months, she soon turned her attention to writing.

"I don't really know how it got to the reporter from Mashable," Aboushaar said referring to an essay she wrote in 7th grade, just more than a year after fleeing Syria.

The entertainment company, Mashable, produced a documentary on Aboushaar after reading that essay. It was a shcool assignment that she thinks was passed along by her brother.

The documentary went viral, attracting the attention of groups like the Mandela Foundation who share her story at fundraisers for Syrian refugees.

For the documentary, Aboushaar was awarded the Claes Nobel Future Female Leader Scholarship by The National Society of High School Scholars.

Now 18, she says her hope still drives her. Aboushaar has worked with a number of humanitarian groups like UNICEF and the Syrian American medical Society.

"I really always wanted to help people because I realize how much privilege I have, just simply being here, being alive, where so many people live everyday with their lives at risk," Aboushaar said.

She and friends created the World Media Club, which aims to involve students in discussions surrounding world events.

"Nobody thinks outside their own lives and nobody thinks that the person they can be talking to like two seconds before, who have been through so much, they're watching as their perople die back home, wherever that might be," Aboushaar said.

With college on the horizon, she's looking at colleges and thinking that one day she'll go to law school.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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