As a senior, Ahmed Tarik ’13 has had three years to hone his interior decorating skills.
The result is his bright and spacious single in Hooper, and it glows with the vibrant curry colors of posters and tapestries.
Two tapestries, one hung on the wall and one on the ceiling, were given to him by a globetrotting friend. Tarik bought another from the ethnic store that periodically visits Van Meter highway, and it whimsically depicts, via batik style, Alice from Alice in Wonderland meeting the hookah-smoking Caterpillar. The last thing on his wall, though, is an Iraqi flag. Surprisingly, he got it from his previous roommate, Nick Manta ’13. “I got it for my birthday – I didn’t see it coming at all, but it was a sweet thing to do. It means a lot to me.”
The centerpiece of his room, however, is a round table that Tarik scavenged from the Free Store a year ago. He covered it with official-looking red cloth, and just sitting at the table itself made me feel diplomatic. I’m not alone either. “This room is called, by my friends, not by me, I emphasize that,” Tarik says, “the ‘Embassy,’ because everyone who comes here is an international student. It’s even got the flag, and over this table we always talk politics.” I see some of this in action later when Tarik and his German friend Tobias Breuer ’14 start discussing how much nicer a German passport looks compared to an American one.
Tarik’s multicultural background and friends are evident on his desk board, where he has pinned various ephemera of note. He has postcards from his friends who have gone abroad in such places as Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Venice, and Finland.
Pinned close to the postcards is a small, colorful drawing. “My sister drew it. She’s ten,” Tarik says. “She drew a picture of me heading to a mosque during [the Muslim festival] Eid, back when we were all living in Damascus. I’d take her sometimes, and she just made that drawing from her memory of me. I haven’t seen my family in three and a half years.” Tarik quickly changes the topic. “I also put up the Baltimore Sun article of me protesting when Karl Rove came to Goucher. It’s something I’m proud of – I stood up for something I believed in, against someone who symbolized war to me.”
He leans back on his ergonomic chair and stares at the board. “I guess this is my memory board. This has been my life in college. And I’m graduating soon! It’s kinda scary to finish a stage and go to the next.” he said. He looks worried for a while, and then smiles.
It seems like whatever awaits Tarik, he will probably approach it with confidence, friends, knowledge, and some good Turkish coffee.