Six months passed and Ilham Karim was getting ready to start her senior year in high school. She was wearing a long khaki skirt and a white short-sleeve blouse. Ilham also wore a frown on her face as she walked slowly to school. She shuffled her feet into her Creative Writing classroom. Ilham glanced over and saw her new teacher, Mrs. Khoury. Mrs. Khoury had a huge smile on her face. She wore bright blue eye shadow and heavy mascara, which made her dark eyes appear even bigger. She was dressed in a robin blue shirt with a scooped neck line and a bright orange skirt. As nice as Mrs. Khoury seemed, Ilham turned away from her and her classmates, not making eye contact with anyone.
“Class, welcome! My name is Mrs. Khoury and I am your Creative Writing teacher. In this class, you will learn how to write poems, plays, and stories. Now, let us each introduce ourselves.”
Mrs. Khoury began by introducing herself to the class.
She said, “Here is a little bit about me: I have been writing since I was ten years old. Before I started writing, I read constantly. My parents would tell me stories about their childhood and read me books about girls making a difference. They made reading fun. I remember hiding under my covers with a flashlight reading my favorite books, including one about a little orphan girl in a far away land. The book was Anne of Green Gables.”
“Besides reading and writing,” she went on, “I enjoy spending time with my family. My family is my rock, and I adore being a mother to two sons and a daughter. I would do anything I could to spend time with my children and husband. I also love teaching my students and sharing with them my love of writing creatively.”
“Well, I guess that is all!” Mrs. Khoury exuberantly declared. “Let’s go around the room and have everyone say a little something about themselves. Who wants to go first?”
The girl sitting next to Ilham with straight black hair raised her hand.
“Yes, please tell us about yourself,” said Mrs. Khoury.
“My name is Alya Hakim. I enjoy writing, especially poetry. Poetry is an escape for me. I feel free when I write. I have been writing since I was very young. I also enjoy playing with my dog, Zayda. She is my pride and joy. I have one brother and one sister. My mother is my role model because she is always optimistic. When life gives her lemons, she always makes lemonade. Being a Palestinian living in the West Bank, she has often tasted the bitterness of oppression, but never loses hope. I also enjoy dancing, because it is an outlet for me to express myself. I think this covers everything I want you to know about me,” Alya concluded.
“Thank you, Alya,” Mrs. Khoury said approvingly.
Mrs. Khoury went around the room until finally it was Ilham’s turn. Mrs. Khoury called on Ilham, who was sitting all the way in the back of the room with her head down. Ilham brushed her hair in front of her eyes so no one could see her. She did not answer. Mrs. Khoury continued to call her name four times until Ilham finally answered.
“Hello,” she said shyly. “My name is Ilham Karim. I have one younger brother named Jari, who is handicapped. He is my best friend and I am his protector. I never want anything bad to happen to him. I spend hours in my room thinking and being alone. My hope is to rest in God’s mercy and comfort. I truly believe that I would not be able to cope with anything without having my faith in God, my savior. My Christian faith is very important to me. I do not believe I have anything else to say,” Ilham quietly concluded.
Mrs. Khoury stood up, looked directly at Ilham, and said, “Thank you, Ilham.”
Somehow, Ilham felt that Mrs. Khoury sincerely appreciated what she had shared.