At the age of 14 Hicham Jansis fled Homs, a city the Syrian civil war has turned to rubble; at 16 Hicham waited in a refugee camp thinking only of water and the food he could not eat.
On Wednesday, two years after he arrived on Australian shores, he came first in his HSC course.
“When they called I thought it was going to be bad,” he said. “When they said I came first in Arabic Extension I couldn’t believe it, I stopped and said: can you say that again?”
Hicham has good reason to be wary of phone calls. On the morning of his last HSC exam he received another.
His uncle had been killed in a bomb blast in Aleppo, a city that two million people once called home, but whose civilians have since endured what the UN humanitarian spokesman has described “a complete meltdown of humanity”, through starvation, airstrikes and in …