Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Life in Chicago

It has almost been two weeks since I've moved into our apartment in Albany Park, Chicago. This semester I am finishing up at Wheaton and commuting there twice a week for classes. The remaining time I wish to spend in the city learning and interacting with Arabs especially, but also with other groups and ethnicities. Very close to our apartment is the "little Arabia" of Chicago with its Arab stores and restaurants. I love it! Walking into a store last week I met right of the bat a Palestinian from Ramallah. Today in the same store I met three more. When I speak Arabic, I have been questioned multiple times "are you Arab?" When I say no they then ask me if my parents are Arab. I consider this a huge complement. One man after I told him I spent time in Palestine was shocked to death. "You are better than us," he said "because we (Arabs in the US) all care about Palestinians, but we do nothing about it. You actually went there and did something." He then went on to offer me a job, an Arab way of thanking me for what I had done. I felt like crying. I was very humbled. Arabs in the US are often stereotyped as terrorists and marginalized giving them a negative view of Americans. In a small way I was able to challenge this and bless this man. In turn I was doubly blessed.

In talking with one of the Palestinians I met today I found out that he had just returned three days ago from the West Bank. "Its not fair" he said with a forlorn face. He went on to say how he had to travel alone because his brother couldn't go with him. Since his brother does not have an Israeli ID card he can't return. "People from all over the world can visit, but my brother who was born there can't." Furthermore, Jews from anywhere in the world can get immediate Israeli citizenship and settle in Israel, yet Palestinians in the West Bank or refugees who have fled can never get one. Irony of ironies.

Re-entry and processing of my summer has gone well. Thank you for your prayers. There is much work to be done, though. Some more of my prayer requests have been updated and posted on the side. I will continue to update this blog in reference to my continued journey towards the Middle East and what I am learning about Arab culture and politics. Hang in there with me!


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