“My teacher asked me if I was Amreekia today,” my youngest sibling told me over the phone. Her teacher had asked the question because she noticed she caught on English quicker than the other students.
“And what did you say?” I asked her.
“I said…I told her no. I’m not.”
“Well, what are you then?” I asked with a mount of curiousity at what her answer will be.
If someone ever told me that my youngest sibling would tell me things that would have me reflecting on my past, I would have probably shook my head. Yet, in just a few words, she managed to take me back to the beginning of my journey with identity…my American-ness and my Palestinian-ness…I am never quite enough of each in the eyes of others.
My youngest sibling’s journey starts out in Palestine. Her vacation destination is the United States. She notices that she can go to America, and some of her relatives cannot. In contrast, my journey started out in the U.S. My vacation destination was Palestine. I noticed that I would go there in the summer, and my American friends did not know where I was going.
I remember two vivid moments when I realized I was also from somewhere else. The first was the language I spoke and how all I wanted to do on my first day of kindergarten was look for someone who spoke Arabic like me. The second was when my parents watched and commented on the news of what was going on in Palestine. I remember the television showing images of Palestinians throwing rocks and Israeli tanks roaming the streets.
My youngest sibling has me wondering. Does the search for identity start where the individual’s journey begins? Or does is it start when we are asked if we’re from somewhere else – and we are?