Reina Sultan (Jordan)

Reina Sultan recently graduated from UCSB with honors as a Political Science major (International Relations) and French minor. As a student fundraiser and subsequently a fundraising supervisor at the UCSB Annual Fund, she raised nearly $170,000 for student resource programs. She strove to involve herself in several organizations, holding leadership positions in both her sorority and Associated Students over the course of several years. During her junior year, she was awarded the prestigious Philip & Aida Siff Educational Foundation Scholarship in recognition of her academic achievements. While interning in Washington D.C. that same year, she was given the opportunity to represent UCSB at UC Day, a yearly event aimed at lobbying California representatives to better serve the UC system. She just ended her time working as an English teaching assistant in France, where she worked with high school students in priority education zones. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with Collateral Repair Project in Amman, Jordan. The daughter of Lebanese refugees, she feels very strongly about advocating for and volunteering with refugee communities displaced by violence. After returning from Jordan, Reina recounted her time there by saying, "I wish I could express in words how meaningful and formative my time with CRP was. AP gave me the opportunity to work with and amplify the voices of beautiful, resilient refugee women in Amman, Jordan. I urge everyone with the means and privilege to make change with an organization like CRP to seize that opportunity immediately".



Reflecting on… Identity

30 Jun

Sorry about the hiatus from blogging. I am writing from Tripoli, Lebanon on the last day of CRP’s Eid vacation. I will begin working again on Sunday, July 2nd!

My maternal grandparents, who have spoiled me endlessly on this trip.

My maternal grandparents, who have spoiled me endlessly on this trip.

I have mentioned in previous blogs and Facebook posts that both my parents are from Lebanon. My father’s immediate family left for Colorado during the civil war, while my mom and her family remained in Tripoli. The last time I was here I was 10 years old, so I hadn’t seen this house or a lot of my family in 12 years. I had forgotten my grandparents’ house, these streets, and the names of most of the family whose faces I recognized. However, something about Tripoli feels like home. Maybe it’s because everyone looks like me or because they know my last name is Lebanese. Still, the same identity crisis I have in the states plagues me here.

Family I haven't seen in 12 years.

Family I haven’t seen in 12 years.

 

 

 

This is a story you know well if your parents were immigrants. You don’t feel quite as American as everyone else. Your parents have an accent (which you probably didn’t know about because you’re used to it). You don’t necessarily have passing privilege. You certainly weren’t taking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school for lunch. You may not have been allowed to go to sleepovers until you were years older than when your friends were allowed. The list goes on. However, you don’t totally fit in with the immigrant community either. You don’t speak the language perfectly or wear the same clothes. Your practice of the religion might be nuanced or more liberal. It is exhausting to feel stuck in between two worlds like this. I feel American because I was born and raised in the states. I love how vast and diverse our country is, how free I am, and how I can experience so many cultures in one state. However, I always say hummus runs through my veins. The Lebanese culture is so rich and I am so in love with it. My family is my backbone and they are unapologetically Lebanese in almost everything they do. So, who am I?

Cousins on Eid Al- Fitr.

Cousins on Eid Al- Fitr.

I am Lebanese- American. These hyphenated Americans are a new breed. Proud of our native cultures, but undeniably American. I may find it harder to fit in in America, where I am exotic. I may also stand out in Lebanon, where my broken Arabic is as evident as ever. However, I am so lucky to have two countries that feel like home. Being in the Middle East, whenever I think of home my heart hurts. I know so many people here feel like they don’t have a home. As I mull on my identity and my place in this world, many Syrians and Iraqis don’t have this luxury. Every day they are reminded of who they are and of the homes they left behind. I hope that they are accepted into their host countries so that they can forge new homes and new communities, instead of being stuck in limbo. But even more than that, I hope that their home countries become safe again so that they can feel the warmth and happiness of being welcomed back into a country they love. That is how I have felt being in Lebanon for this past week. My heart is so full and I have renewed energy to get back to work on Sunday.

Posted By Reina Sultan (Jordan)

Posted Jun 30th, 2017

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