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Home is Palestine

The definition of an Arab, from my understanding, is one who speaks Arabic. And although it is not my mother tongue (in fact, my Arabic language skills are quite minimal), I consider myself an Arab. I base my identity on my ancestry as a 3rd/4th generation Palestinian/Lebanese American. What connects me to this identity It is reflected in the food I eat (labne is life), the books I like to read (often by Arab authors or on topics related to the Middle East), the films, music, art, fashion and decor I enjoy, my religion as an Antiochian Orthodox Christian), and even the work I do which is related to bettering the lives of Palestinian refugees. As much as I am Arab, however, I am American, and I feel connected to both. Here in the United States I am often asked where I'm "from from" and in the Middle East I am considered an American, it could leave me feeling as if I am not fully accepted in either place, but I think it gives me a unique edge and the best of both worlds.


Home is typically defined as the place where you live. But although physically inaccessible to most Palestinians, all Palestinians consider Palestine home. Home seems to be connected to memory and ancestry for Palestinians, despite birthplace. Through the work that I do I have had the privilege to "return" to Lebanon and Palestine nearly every year, and always say I'm planning a visit "back home" when I go. I guess home for me refers to where we (my family) are from originally, as well as where we live currently -- Virginia. I've realized I have different senses of comfort depending on where I find myself physically located. I love all the options, freedoms, and the diversity I am surrounded by as an American born in the United States, and never realize how much so until I spend an extended period in the Middle East. But I love the sound of Arabic, the taste of the food, the smell and look of the land, and being completely immersed in the culture of my ancestral homelands - Palestine and Lebanon - when I'm there. I feel so much comfort being fully immersed by tradition in a place that thousands of years more ancient than the USA. But I realize, as an American born in the diaspora, it is so much easier for me to see and take what I want from the Middle East and leave it when I want...

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