Kenan Trebincevic is 34 years old. He lives in Queens, and works as a physical therapist.
In 1993, he was a 12-year-old Muslim refugee. He, his brother and father were exiled from Bosnia, during a war against his people.
In between, he was a Westporter.
This week, Kenan told his story — one that resonates strongly, now that Donald Trump has called for banning all Muslim immigrants to the United States — on Esquire.com.
He writes about his parents’ decision to apply for permanent asylum in the US:
“Dad and I will be nobodies, so you boys can become somebodies,” my mother said. We were blessed to be sponsored by the generous churches and synagogues of the Connecticut Interfaith Council.
A Westport Methodist minister shared his home with us for 4 months and helped my parents find jobs. A nearby orthodontist fixed my teeth for free. When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, a Jewish surgeon operated on her without sending a bill for the operation, chemotherapy, and radiation.
At [Bedford Middle] school, I was unable to speak English. The principal introduced me to the 7th grade class. Miguel, a Spanish Catholic boy, offered me the seat next to him and became my best friend, eventually teaching me about baseball, football, and hockey.
The family moved a few times — to Norwalk, Stratford, then back to Westport at Sasco Creek Village.
Kenan earned his masters degree in physical therapy from the University of Hartford in 2004. Today he’s got a thriving practice, specializing in adult and adolescent sports rehabilitation.
He’s also an American citizen.
Kenan’s Esquire essay is titled “I’m Muslim. I Was a Refugee. I’m Proud to Be an American.” Click here to read his full story.
It’s a great one.
(To learn more about Kenan’s immigration and stay in Westport, click here for the book he wrote with Susan Shapiro. Hat tip: Roger Sherman)