Syrian Scientist Refugee Arrives in Michigan, Promises to ‘Be a Good Citizen’

"I still think I have a chance to make a difference in the world," he said.

The 54-year-old scientist, who is currently battling stomach cancer, fled to Turkey from Syria two years ago after his house was bombed and destroyed, killing his wife, one of his daughters and other family members.

Despite tremendous grief, Hamo and his surviving children -- one son and three daughters -- are eager to rebuild their lives in Oakland County, Michigan. Hamo spoke at a news conference Thursday night with the help of a translator, an event arranged by Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, the refugee resettlement agency that helped bring Hamo and his family to the U.S.

"The people of Syria, they aren’t like any other people...they are very generous people," Hamo said. "If they go to another country, they don’t want to live under special circumstances. They will give back to the community. They will be good citizens to the countries they are living in. They will give back to the whole community here. I refuse to be called a refugee only."

Hamo frequently repeated that he wanted to "be a good citizen" and to "give back."

Before Hamo's arrival, he told HONY he had "several inventions that I'm hoping to patent once I get to America."

"I still think I have a chance to make a difference in the world," he said. "One of my inventions is being used right now on the Istanbul metro to generate electricity from the movement of the train. I have sketches for a plane that can fly for 48 hours without fuel. I’ve been thinking about a device that can predict earthquakes weeks before they happen."

Hamo added that he just wanted a place to do his research and to "get back to work" and "be a person again."

"I don't want the world to think I'm over," he said. "I'm still here."