Kissed by Poverty

Kissed by Poverty

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In 1990 my family and I left Kuwait on our vacation to the United States. This vacation was anything but normal. On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and consequently we were not able to return. We soon found out that our home was in ruins, and everything was lost. I was seven years old when my family and I realized that the United States was to be our new home. The start of our new lives began in St. Louis, Missouri. At this time all I could think about was how my once prominently wealthy family was no more. My father and mother were out of work, my sisters and I couldn't go back to our friends and schools, and our lives had taken a complete twist. I thought about how I would never see my friends again, how I couldn't play soccer after school anymore, and realizing just how the childhood I had was lost. When I started school the next in America, I was shocked. My father advised me that this would be a big challenge, and that only the fit would survive in this volatile world. So I understood what was to come, and would most definitely try my hardest to make my father proud.

I took the challenge head on, but honestly I was afraid. Thoughts of failure lurked in the back of my mind. Will the kids accept me? Where will I sit at lunch? What will the teachers think of a kid who does not speak English well? These thoughts made me want to turn around and go back to where I came from. Instead I was amazed by the atmosphere in the American schools, as well as the kindness and understanding of my teachers and peers. They encouraged me to go forward and meet the challenge.

Fortunately I came from a family which values education. My father told my sisters and me that "success in America is a choice and it will be achieved only through education." In the following years I watched my two sisters graduate with honors as chemical engineers from two prominent colleges. Seeing their success made me eager to follow in their footsteps.

For the most part the nine years I spent in Missouri were happy and joyful. I was molded to be a successful student and friend. I gained the friendship of my peers and the admiration of my teachers, many to whom I still keep a close contact with.

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Two years ago I faced a similar challenge when my parents and I moved to California. This time I was prepared for what lay ahead. Of the ten years I spent in the United States I believe these last two have been the most productive. With my good attitude I was able to make many new friends. This was not the most important thing involved with my move to California. Realizing that higher education is the key to success was my greatest achievement. I truly began to see the difference between the student I was at the start of high school, and the student I am now. While attending Monterey High School I was accepted into the M.A.O.S. program. This program targets selected students and offers a more challenging curriculum in English, math, and science courses. I was twice nominated for Who's Who Among American High School Students. Also in my last year I was eligible for Membership in the California Scholarship Federation (C.S.F.). Along with my academic achievements I have no doubt that I am ready for the next challenge that awaits me.

I am not one to take the easy way out. I recognize that obstacles will lie in the road ahead, and I'm ready for them. Looking back on the challenges I've faced in my life, I'm glad that I took them on and have "the light at the end of the tunnel." I now realize the reward that comes from overcoming a challenge. Not only do I look at college as a challenge; but I also look at it as a journey, and at the end of my journey will be life long friends and most importantly the fulfillment of my dreams, a college degree.

In a way I find myself to be a representative and role model for my family and the Arab culture I left behind. I hope to pass on my beliefs of the priceless value of education. Throughout my life I've gone with the faith that wealth can go as easily as it came, but education can never be lost. This is a lesson to be learned for many who think they'll never be kissed by poverty.

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