By Leland Kim
MANOA (KHNL) - The war has also taken its toll on the people of Iraq. Many Iraqis fled their homeland, and some have ended up here in Hawaii.
It's a bloody war, claiming more than 3,400 U.S. lives, and by some estimates, more than 650,000 Iraqi civilians.
Adel and Amjad have been friends since they taught at the University of Mosul in Iraq. For security reasons, we will not show their faces or reveal their full names.
They left their homeland in October 2004.
"You know, it was bad," said Adel, an Iraqi Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "Yeah, it was a bad situation."
Getting security clearance to come to the United States was challenging.
"So it was really hard," said Amjad, also an Iraqi graduate student at the university. "Long time waiting in a queue just to be checked and move on."
Their journey took them from Iraq to Syria to Jordan. Then across the Atlantic to Chicago, to Indianapolis, to San Francisco, and across the Pacific to finally Honolulu. Their eventual destination: the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"Actually being here is like a dream," said Amjad. "Having a Ph.D. from America is really a dream."
It's tough being far away from family and friends, especially when they hear about bombings and IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attacks.
"They keep telling me that when they leave home, they don't know if they'll come back or not," said Amjad.
They hope the war ends soon,
"I'm seeking peace for my country," said Adel. "Yes, peace and love."
So they can -- one day -- go back home.
"I hope they will be safe, secure and I hope that I will be able to meet them again," said Amjad.