DEAR AMERICA

The quote “there’s no place like home” often finds a welcoming embrace from many. Despite that, I wouldn’t particularly say that it finds that from me as my definition of home isn’t a geographical location, nor is it a group of people to which I’m related to by blood, friendship, or acquaintance. I’m oblivious to home’s concrete definition, and having been back in the little sandbox of a country that I live in for almost a week, it’s fair to say that I have no relation to it.

Struggling through the inevitability of jet lag, I have yet to discover what’s new and happening within The Kingdom of Bahrain; I have yet to get lost within its new spaces and places and perhaps fall upon new faces, you know? Whilst doing that and sipping upon one too many Americanos, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the past five months that I’ve spent in America – so here’s a letter.

Dear America,

It would take an unfathomable amount of effort to neglect how I’ve guiltlessly taken pieces of your fragmented grounds to construct myself. It would also take an unfathomable amount of effort to turn a blind eye to the defects of those pieces. Most of all, it would take an unfathomable amount of effort not to thank you.

So, America, thank you.

An old friend of mine once said,“It’s easy to assume that what you desire, especially as a young person, is your God given right.” And as one would, I ecstatically pursued our generation’s propelling currency. I pursued what I’ve been reading about ever since I was 10, The American Dream. The dream where “no sir” and “yes ma’am” would be reciprocated with mutual respect, but instead I was hesitantly embraced with doubt and questioning upon placing an order at your “don’t use the Lord’s name in vain” of a place: Chick-fil-A.

Following up on that American experience came the renowned Chipotle, and my life, it sure was! (At least for the first couple of weeks). I came to understand the bewitching aspect of Walmart, how we as millennials romanticize grocery shopping, and it’s no cash payback receipt with a significant other. Although, the understanding along with the effects of the rose-tinted glasses happened to wear off upon a late night “people watching” session. One where all you came across were homeless folk, alcoholics, and frat boys that purchased an excessive amount of beer cups, alcohol, wire cutters, off the counter drugs, trojans, and then instantly ushered out to act upon their debauchery do’s.

But away from the dark and moody to lush green fields, and what’s fruity. Being unaware of the Midwest, what I witnessed was not what I had expected – thank god. Not to dismay the excessive plaid and checkered shirts, faint Dolly Parton and Kacey Musgrave’s tunes, and the occasional “the city’s too big of a place for me”, it was quite yee – and I can’t stress this enough – haw. From stressing over one aspect, to stressing over the bigger picture, one to which I willingly give an immense sense of gratitude and thanks.

America, thank you for helping me see a picture that’s inclusive of who I am, what I want to be, and what I want to contribute to in the future. A picture that I have to vigorously and adamantly work towards. Thank you for showing me that beauty isn’t idealistic, one particular shape or form, a race nor is it just white. Thank you for showing me what self-worth is, and how to set it. Thank you for showing me that change isn’t only possible, but inevitable. Thank you for putting me in situations where the collective overpowered the individualistic.

Contributing to that is the fact of being celebrated rather than tolerated, which’s truly, a feeling that words can’t touch upon. Adding onto that is the view of privilege, what it looks like when it’s earned rather than given, and how it makes you question your position in life – better yet, it helps you get acquainted to the difference between being self-absorbed and self-aware. Thank you for that. Thank you for helping me understand how vital discomfort is, for without it I wouldn’t have grown. Thank you for showing me that it isn’t always greener on the other side. Thank you for showing me the blessings that I have, and how I was taking them for granted. Thank you for showing me what really matters, and how it never really revolved around the finer things in life. Thank you for teaching me how I should never allow someone else’s decisions and insecurities make me question me and mine. Thank you for teaching me more about myself, what I will tolerate, and what I won’t allow.

America, It’s pretty evident that throughout my time within you, there have been many lessons learned, acknowledgements made, and goals set to achieve. Quite frankly, I view this trip as the quintessential gateway into the next chapter of my life, and I have none other than the Global UGRAD program and its members to thank. Here’s to my next trip to you, and here’s to a kick off start on to the next chapter.

As you’ve obtained pieces of me, I have obtained that and so much of you.

Yours (but with uncertainty),

Ali

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