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Like most people in the world, I have a family, I go to school, and do other fun

and athletic activities. However, the only significant difference is that I am a Palestinian.

I consider my nationality to be my identity and foundation that shaped me into who I

am today. I was practically born into a warzone; the best memories that I could recall

from my childhood would probably be during the time of the Second Intifada. The

Second Intifada is the second uprising of the Palestinians against the Israeli Occupation

which happened when I was about 4 years old. Despite the fact that I was only 4 years

old, I can still remember the times when my mother used to hide me and my brothers

under the bed for fear we would get hit by a stray bullet, tear gas, or just Israeli soldiers

breaking into our house. I remember the feeling I used to get when my family and I used

to wait for my dad to get us food from the store when there was curfew, the feeling that

this could be the last time I would see my dad. That feeling made me realize that at this

very moment there is a thin line between life and death; the feeling that it could've

been anyone's dad out there who couldn't make it back in time before the soldiers

raided the area and began shooting again. While many children around the world went

to sleep peacefully in their beds, shooting, sirens, and screams of terror became both

my lullaby and my morning alarm clock. I still remember when a bullet was shot and

went through my parents' bedroom while we were all asleep. I recall waking up the next

morning and realizing they could have been hit. As the years progressed and the intifada

was over, my journey continued and the struggle of being a Palestinian emerged at

checkpoints, borders, and airports. I remember when I was 8 years old I had to take off

my skirt at a checkpoint because the soldiers were not convinced I was harmless; I was

furious. I have witnessed incident like this after incident like this. One of the many

incidents that are burned into my mind is the time I witnessed an Israeli soldier push a

blind diabetic elderly man to the ground at a checkpoint because he refused to let

someone help him walk through. There are countless other incidents just like this one.

I never intend to share these memories with people to show how unfortunate I

am and this situation is, but because if someone asked me what the best part of my

childhood was, I’d take them to the Second Intifada. Why? Because we only realize the

value of someone or something when we (almost) lose it. I share my story because I am

tremendously lucky and blessed to be alive and who I am today. Not only am I blessed

to be born a Palestinian, but I am so blessed that my family is still alive after living

through all of this; I am so blessed to have food on my table, clothes on my back, and a

home. These experiences became stories, and these stories became the center of my

identity. It is because of these experiences that I grew up to be a strong and courageous

person who does not fear a soldier with a weapon, war, standing out, or being proud of

my identity. You know how they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Well

that's what it's done, literally.

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