Case in point: Ben Kahriman, a defensive-line recruit for the UBC Thunderbirds, is a Bosnian refugee whose family "literally got the last train out of Serbia" (Inside Bay Area) during the Balkan war in the 1990s. He and his family have overcome more than one could while passing through 100 lifetimes.
"Kahriman might have received Division I offers had it not been for his physical setbacks, but he isn't deterred by it. He believes he still might wind up playing at that level if UBC joins the NCAA, which the Canadian university has been considering. The key is that the prestigious university presents the best springboard to his longer-term goals — helping people from his native country.
" 'There's still a lot of hatred between the religions, and there's a still a lot of anger between Montenegro and Serbia, Bosnia and Serbia,' he said. 'My main goal in life is to help people in that region develop stable government.' "
Words kind of fail when you read about this:
"' I remember since I was little, like 3 or 4, at the dinner table there would be talk about the war and everything,' Kahriman said. 'My mom, she didn't want to hide anything from me. She wanted me to know everything that was happening and didn't want to shield us.'No one's trying to turn Kahriman into a saint. He's another young person who wants to play a varsity sport while earning a degree, who for all one knows, having never seen him play, might not stand out too much from 50,000 other players on 500 other football fields. The rub is here is someone from an everyday walk of life who's overcome stuff that is beyond the grasp of someone who had what appears to be a nice, normal middle-class North American coming-of-age.
"... 'When I got older, probably fourth or fifth grade, I developed a resentment against what happened and the fact that a lot of innocent civilians died like my grandparents,' "
Reading about Kahriman and his parents, Ferid and Vesna, makes it a little easier to get out the door. Hopefully that doesn't sound patronizing. Regardless of rooting interest, you have to cheer for Ben Kahriman to have a good career at UBC and go, since if you click through (don't want to piggyback on other journos' work), it's a wonder in itself he's playing football.
(Cross-posted to cisblog.ca.)
Kahriman clan gets off train ride to nowhere (Carl Steward, InsideBayArea.com)
Balkan war refugee achieves college football dream (Vytas Mazeika, San Jose Mercury News)