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My Family

My family is from the coal fields of West Virginia. My family is British Isles elite. I am Irish. I am Scottish. I am French and German. I am American. My family is made of immigrants. My family is filled with love.

I have more family from around the world. My family has constantly been beaten down for who they are. My family is from Afghanistan. My family is from Iraq. My family is from Syria. My family is from Congo. From Burundi. From Sudan. From Somalia. From Rwanda. From Nepal or Bhutan, though they are not wanted in either.

My family has a lot of stories. They are both joyful and painful. They are broken, but they persist still. My family never has experienced true freedom.

My family has seen death first hand. My family has suffered at the hands of corrupt regimes. My family is the victim of terror. My family knows the feeling of being starved. My family has rotted away in refugee camps for ten years. My family has never had a nation. My family is the lowest in the caste, the untouchable. My family longs for seeing their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and sons and daughters who were left behind, and still face death or imprisonment on a daily basis. My family is still scared to walk the streets of Roanoke because she wears a hijab.

My family are doctors and midwives. My family is a professor. My family is a counselor and English major. My family is a store clerk and housekeeper. My family are farmers. Life has not been fair to my family, proving evil does not discriminate based on status.

My family says “Inshallah.” My family sings “Hakuna Mangu.” My family prays multiple times a day. My family wants peace. My family wants things to be restored to the way they were meant to be. My family wants to be free to worship and live their lives.

My family has seen things that no human should ever have to see. My family still comes to English class with smiles on their faces. My family is grateful to be in America. My family tells me about their countries. My family alludes to the Taliban, to ISIS, to al-Qaeda, to their corrupt states, sometimes with tears in their eyes. They are relieved to start new.

There are things I will never know about my family. I am certain my family will go untreated for diabetes, for arthritis, for depression, for PTSD, for heart problems. My family can’t always express their pain. My family may never be completely happy because of the horrors they experienced. Although, there is still hope. Their children will grow up in freedom. They will experience love. My family will still experience hate, because that’s just the way of the world. My family will persist.

My family has taught me more than I’ve taught them. Seeing the light bulb go off when learning a grammar structure or seeing Hawa spell “map” on her own are the highlights of my day. What I cherish is learning about family. My family laughs with me one minute and comes close to tears the next.

My family is stronger than I’ll ever be. My family is just a drop in the bucket of people beaten down in the world. My family and millions more carry a burden. Without my family, I would not understand in the slightest. I am thankful for my family. People like my family will never know what peace is. I cry for people like my family. I make a small difference. I cannot fix the world. Yet through highs and lows my family will persist.

My family is filled with love and shows it to us all. Will you welcome my family, love them and give them peace?

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