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I have always listened to my father's stories about his childhood back in Lebanon. He was always so excited to tell my brother and I about how great the people are there and how one day he hoped that we could feel the way he did about such a place. He told me about how he grew up in a world where he never wanted to leave, but was always worried that the occasional fighting, going on outside his hometown, would cause him and his family to look for a new home. I never imagined that one day I would be caught in the middle of that world.
A loud blast had shook the building and followed with an explosion. A missile strike had just toppled an adjoining hilltop and a fiery smoke began to tower. Being only ten, I panicked and ran to my hotel room, looking for my mom and brother. Once together, she told my brother and I that we had to flee the chaos and leave Lebanon only a week into our annual three month vacation. With the airport bombed, we were unsure by which route. I was disillusioned, thinking back to what my dad had told me about this wonderful world where he grew up, and so I began to draw away from it, not wanting to be a part of it.
Trying to blend two contrasting societal foundations, I found myself clashing with both Lebanese values and the American way of life. I questioned being in Sunday school, learning Arabic and singing cultural hymns, which I thought were pointless living in America. Also, I was bothered with spending summer vacations visiting family in Lebanon and not understanding what they were saying. I much preferred the comfort and security of my everyday life in America.
As time passed and as I grew older, my impression of the event evolved. As I attended Lebanese festivals with my family, I would instinctually speak Arabic with the elderly, I would find myself drawn into the dabke dance line, savoring the delicacies prepared by the mothers, and be entertained by the dads renditions of traditional Lebanese hymns. Watching everyone around me, I realized that just like me they come from the same world of conflict, maintain their heritage and traditions while assimilating into American way of life. I realize that ultimately I will go back and share my experiences to help those who come from the same world of conflict.