Courage can be contagious, and hope can take a life of its own. These are the words I live by. Coming from a country where terrorism is the most prevalent activity, (social, economic and political) the move my parents took from Afghanistan to the United States of America was one of the most courageous and tactful decisions they made. There is a double standard when they come from the developed world,' their intention is to curb terrorism and save innocent locals, caught in the crossfire between warring parties. However, regardless of my innocence in all of this, my arrival in the United States was met with blank stares and the misinterpreted perception of my grand plan to take employment opportunities from well deserving Americans. Sometimes even treated as the very terrorists my family worked so hard to escape.
Courage can be contagious, and hope can take a life of its own. Off course the entry to the country was not going to be perfect and without trial. Looking back home, the consistent patrol of military and militarized youth created an atmosphere that instilled fear in locals and often took away an opportunity for the youth. Young boys are required to choose a side and fight alongside their kin. Guns and bombs are nothing to be in awe about. Life in Afghanistan wasnt rosy. The stares and sneers I got in the United States of America, therefore, were tolerable and in most cases prompted me to try and bridge a gap that made me an immigrant and outlier in school.
In hindsight, I was well prepared for high school in America. In the movies, being an outsider makes you a target. Victimization and stigmatization were core prejudices which I had to come to terms with and learn how to cope. The other young children who had not made it out of Afghanistan longed for education and the opportunities my parents had sacrificed to secure. The culture at home did not give any room, for innovation, entertainment, and industrial development. Many Afghans, therefore, yearn to sit in a classroom like the ones I was privileged to have.
The year has seen me change, a great deal. For one, many of the sneers I initially got turned into smiles. I believe I am getting more socially aware and active. Courage is contagious. As a senior, I am blessed to have the support of my family and friends. The immigrant in America has a difficult task. Other than my consistent defense of both intention and culture, I have to compete with born American for education opportunities, and eventually jobs. Also, my culture and religion do not give a lot of room for social and economic empowerment, especially for the girl child. I take a lot of strength to wake up, get my Hijab and join millions of Americans in the fight against Islam extremism.
Sometimes, I go home to find my brothers and sisters (both maternal and in faith), tired of the hate and sometimes disillusioned. These feelings breed hate. They say that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. So how do I react to all this? Hope. In the last 100 years, this country has seen significant strides in social acceptance of minorities, advancement of social and cultural diversity, increased sensitivity for the female rights. The 21st century has however brought about new struggles, the acceptance of Immigrants remains a challenge to the American people and Immigrants such as myself.
I am fortunate to have parents whose sheer courage extends to my everyday life. I am inspired to protect my culture by sharing some of my beliefs and thoughts with other classmates. I have had a lot of time to understand the social structure of the American high school, getting insight into issues like school spirit and pride. As the senior class, it is out time to take the flags, of our parents, cultures, and lives and raise them for the world to see and understand why we are here.
I cannot lie, I have come a long way from home, in search of freedom and success, my country has not seen for 47 years (Adelman and Taylor 323-344). I, therefore, am not afraid of the stares and sneers. In fact, in some weird way, I feel life has taken a turn for the better. First world immigrant problems if you will. I, however, raise the flag of millions of Afghans struggling to get out of a war no one understands. It is my intention to ensure the opportunities and wealth of resources at my disposal are not wasted. Looking at the class of 2017, the hope that brought me half way across the world is in the eyes of each student, every staff member. It is you who give me strength and challenge my courage, and for that, I am eternally grateful. This hope has taken a life of its own, and I am living proof of that. I believe the future holds so much for each one of us if we remember that courage can be contagious and hope can take one a life of its own. Thank you.
Adelman, Howard, and Linda Taylor. "Immigrant Children and Youth in the USA: Facilitating Equity of Opportunity at School." Education Sciences 5.4 (2015): 323-344. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
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