“Thoughts From Our Beautiful Life: A Collection of Short Stories from the Ladies of the Arab American Family Support Center”, is a small bound book of poems and stories written by some of the ladies of our Adult Education and Literacy program a few years ago. English teacher Roberta Baum, writes “I am most grateful to my students, the authors of Thoughts From Our Beautiful Life. My students not only shared very personal thoughts and experiences, but they took a great risk in expressing themselves in English. I am thankful for their trust and leap of faith. I am deeply proud and humbled by their journey.”
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re going to start sharing some of the women’s writings on their lives, history, and their time at the AAFSC. Their writing reflects their lives as they moved to a new country – away from their families, homes, and lives, and into a wildly unfamiliar place. The book was initially part of a writing exercise for the English classes.
Our first entry is “Memory of My Childhood”, by Dalwa.
“I remember this sentence: ‘America is so far from here.’ This sentence was said by Mum. I will tell you why Mum said that. When I was four years old, we lived in a town in Yemen. One day my father moved to the USA. I was very sad because he left us and went away.
I didn’t understand why Daddy did that. Why he left me and didn’t take me with him? There were more questions but I didn’t know the answers.
I cried and cried. Mum gave me a candy, but that did not stop me from crying. I went to the top of the mountain that was near our house, and Mum followed me. I looked far into the horizon, and then I asked Mum, ‘Where did my father go?’
‘He went to America,’ Mum answered.
‘Because we need money to live, and your father went to America to send back money for us. Do you understand, baby?’
‘No, I don’t understand. I don’t like money. I just like Daddy! We need Daddy!’
And I cried again and, of course, Mum cried with me. When I stopped crying, Mum thought I was asleep. But I wasn’t sleeping, I was thinking about things. Suddenly, I spoke again, ‘Mum, I have a great idea. Please tell me where America is?’
‘Why?’ Mum asked.
‘I will walk to America and live with Daddy.’
‘No, that’s impossible. You can’t do that. America is so far from here.’
I did not remember this sentence until right now, and I also remembered it when I arrived in the USA. The plane landed and, suddenly, this sentence came to mind. I said to myself, ‘Uhh, finally America, now you are not far, but you are not easy to get to.’
I think we took about sixteen years to arrive here, after Mum first said that sentence.”