How War Changed The Course Of My Life

How War Changed The Course Of My Life

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Every so often, when I am sitting at home and drinking a cup of chamomile tea, I often wonder what my life would be like if the Soviet Union did not invade Afghanistan. See, my family fled the emerging war in Afghanistan during the 1990’s. They were forced to leave everything behind, whether that meant their beloved country, childhood photos, extended family members, or all their belongings. They were forced to seek refuge in unfamiliar lands and take with them only the thing with the highest importance, themselves. Sometimes they wish they had never left because leaving their country symbolized a lot more than just physical movement. It meant losing their culture, identity, way of life and perhaps even language or religion. They often question their decision, wondering if it was all worth it in the end. What if we were all better off in Afghanistan? What if moving to America meant losing our cultural identity? What if this move was not the best decision in the long-run?

Sometimes even I think about how my life would have been if they did not make that pivotal decision. I wonder if I would be the same person I am today, with the same morals, values and outlook on life. I wonder if I would communicate the same as I do now. Would I like the same music, or dress similarly? Perhaps if we stayed in Afghanistan, my brother and I might not have had broken Farsi and we could have been able to read and write Farsi proficiently. We might have also been much more in-tune to our roots and full of knowledge about our motherland. We might have had a different perspective about the world, especially about America. These questions would bother me a lot because I knew there was no concrete answer to them. However, I realized that life has its own way of explaining things and our job is to accept that sometimes life takes us to certain directions for a reason.

As I got older and a bit wiser I realized that the direction life has taken me is actually the best one. Instead of growing up in a war-torn country I was able to grow up in safety. I was able to utilize the opportunities available in America, whether that is pertaining to my education or my career to its full extent. In fact, growing up in the west made me truly appreciate the things I have because I knew I could easily be in a worse situation. Having the background that I had also meant carrying certain responsibilities on my back. I always knew that I had to do something for the people back home in my country therefore that motivated me to work hard, study hard and be the best version of myself possible. Sometimes I think that being far made me be a much more socially active and conscious individual. Perhaps I would not be as driven as I am today if I grew up in Afghanistan. I might have had other motives, such as dreaming of western life (as some do) or feeling extremely helpless and hopeless about my situation.

All in all, while my family thought that moving to America would be detrimental to my brother and I in terms of culture and identity, it actually allowed myself to admire my country and the strong people who risk their lives living there on a daily basis to an even larger extent. Me being far from my country inspired me to learn more about it and emerge myself into whatever that I was missing out on. It bonded me to my culture, identity, religion and afghan-lifestyle in a way in which my parents never would have envisioned. Never in a million years would they think that their kids would be so caring and concerned about a country that is thousands of miles away from them. I think this proves that life is an unexplainable journey and what you may think is negative at the time can one day turn around and become the most positively impactful event in your life. Who would have thought that the aftermath of war would end up so sweet?




Cover Image Credit: Steve McCurry

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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If You Think Belly Dancing Is Sexual, You're Missing The Whole Point

Believe it or not, exposed stomachs aren't inherently sexual.

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What we know as belly dancing here in America started in the middle east as a way for mothers to teach their daughters how to isolate certain muscles that they would use in childbirth, thus making the process an easier one when it was their time to go through it.

This cultural dance began with mothers teaching daughters behind closed doors where men weren't allowed to watch. It's possible that this fact helped cause some of the negative stigmas behind it by people who do not know its true origin.

Long story short (because I'm not looking to place false facts in this article), belly dancing moved over to America after a while and it wasn't necessarily accepted at first. Today, there is a multitude of belly dancing styles, including belly dance fusion which combines more traditional dancing with modern takes on it by blending multiple cultures or dancing styles.

You're probably wondering why a white girl such as myself is trying to educate you on something that clearly isn't a part of my own culture. Well, for those of you who don't know (or who couldn't recognize me from the cover photo), I belly dance at my university as part of an extracurricular club.

This club is easily one that I am most passionate about. I joined the club in my first semester as a freshman and have stuck with it for the past six semesters, and plan to stick with it for my last two. I came into the club with little previous dance experience and no previous belly dance experience, much like almost everyone else I've seen come and go.

I've heard of professors at my school who said they wouldn't go to our shows because it "made him uncomfortable." Why? Because our stomachs are out and we're moving our hips? That doesn't make our dancing inherently sexual.

We have a rule within our club that if any of us go out to parties, we cannot use belly dancing moves to try to woo guys or girls. Because guess what? That's not the point of belly dancing.

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