In 2016, I visited Berlin for a writing course hoping to cover what obstacles the recent rise in Islamophobia posed Syrian refugees as they settled into the city. I met Samir al-Hajjar, an engineering student who fled Damascus and was making his way towards a job in Berlin. Even for a secular English-speaking Muslim as himself, he still found it difficult to make friends and start working in Berlin — he tackled that by creating an ad for himself and his friends on social media that went viral, offering Berliners anything from help on their homework to meeting up for a beer

From our escapades into Berlin nightlife to our love of döner kebab, we shared much in common, despite our vastly different backgrounds.