Ali Hijazi: Challenges Through Adversities

Growing up in a small city in California, I was always looked at as someone who was obviously different than everyone else. Being Lebanese American, it’s hard to make or even stay with friends with other people, and what hurt me the most is that I try too hard to make friends. Muslims do not do many tasks and hobbies outside our group do like eat pork, or go to parties and so forth. I always knew that I would have different hobbies and beliefs than others, and knowing too that I might be looked at as “The boring kid”, but there were some activities that helped me make friends.

Basketball and soccer during lunch in middle school and high school was something that I will never forget. Every time we would finish class, I would skip the food in lunch and go straight to playing with my classmates. What made me feel uncomfortable at times is that I would be the only Muslim in our classes, and it sucked because people would always have conversations that are deep into that culture. I would not really get into those conversations because, well I never understood them since they would speak Spanish. The beauty about sports is that it brought me to feel equal for that time, that there was no difference in my skin and just having a good time. Certainly it was a challenge for me to try and make relationships, and it still is, but I always had the mindset to be around anyone just so I can have an exceptional school year.

Although there are moments where things might not seem so bad after all, it is not that easy going to school while having parents who do not understand the school systems. My journey growing with this this identity where my parents migrated here from a third world country is tough. My parents lacked knowledge about career advice, scholarships, applications, tests, etc. I always had to find out ways to better myself even when my parents did not know. When my parents would drop me off so I would take my SAT tests in high school, they did not even know what that test it was for, they just always believed that I am doing the right choice. But I understood that, and I understood that migrating here is not an easy thing to do and know everything about this country. What they do though is always love and support me through my school campaign, which made me pleasant that they would try their best to keep me happy.

I later learned a lot of how I am seen in this country and how my expectations are when a parent is going to operate in this situation. I told myself that if I were to ever have kids, I would always teach them how being a different skin than everyone else is not a bad thing, and that you should always push through your adversity and try your best to meet higher standards so that one day they will not look at me and say they had it harder than the other kids. I want was is best for them in the long run, and my mom always taught me that nothing ever beats education, and that it will make you and everyone around you successful.

Having the feeling of getting a degree (which I have not felt yet) is something that everyone should know how it feels, because many of us come from different backgrounds. For me, the biggest accomplishment would be that I would graduate even though I see specific racial groups always hanging out together, and rarely seeing Muslims around me to have a great support system. It helps me know what I have overcome to reach my goal when I was so young, and I learned that life is like a bumpy ride, but somehow we can still make it to the finish line.