Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and I am first generation Palestinian American.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood growing up was great! Most of my family lived near me and we would have family gatherings weekly. If there wasn’t an occasion, we would make one just to spend time together.
What brought you to Cleveland?
My family first immigrated to Dearborn before settling in Cleveland. My entire family (aunts, uncles, and cousins) decided it had better job opportunities.
What is your occupation? Are you a member of a sorority, fraternity, or any other civic or social organization?
I have my degree in Dental Hygiene, but I currently work for a non-profit organization called Salaam Cleveland that helps refugees and people within the community that are in need, with the essentials to call Cleveland their home.
How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?
Since wearing the hijab (headscarf), there is often the misconception that I was not born in America. So when asked about my religion and culture by community members, they tend to go out of there way to get to know me as well as my beliefs, which has been a nice surprise. Who knew a piece of cloth worn on my head would be a great conversation starter?!
What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?
Something I love within the Palestinian community in Cleveland is that they try their best to pass down customs and traditions. From our foods like maklouba and kanafa, to our dances like the dabkah, they have stayed intact for many generations. Not only this but to welcome people into your home and make them feel apart of your family is a huge custom that is never neglected.
What do you love about Cleveland?
I have grown to love Cleveland very much through the different communities I have had the opportunity to connect with. Cleveland is a great place especially as people stand united and support each other despite their differences.
Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?
Although you may not be an immigrant or refugee yourself, someone in your family has been. Coming to a new land can be difficult and scary, because you are leaving everything you have known behind you. If only we could walk in each others shoes… That is why it is important to welcome immigrant and refugee, to let them know they are not alone here and we support them. Not only should that be our communities goal but it is the goal of Salaam Cleveland.
Why is it important to travel abroad?
I have been blessed to travel to a few hispanic countries like Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, and Puerto Rico, as well as a few middle eastern countries, like the Palestine, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. We are all humans. Sure we have differences, but to experience each others cultures is amazing. To see the ancestry of each land and compare it to your own, you would be surprised with all of the similarities.