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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

Some time when you move to another country from your country you have to change

By Khaled Alzubair  |   From : Bronx, NY  |   School : MACS

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Childhood

I’m from Yemen. I grew up back home in my country, but then I moved to the United States when I was seven-years-old. In Yemen, I lived in a city called Ibb. There were a lot of people from different cultures there. There were many cities and two different languages spoken. These are Arabic and Somali. There were also a lot of different animals, such as lions, leopards, camels, bear cubs, sheep, lambs, goats, horses, and frogs. Everyone had chickens incubating eggs at their house and two or three cows for fresh milk and meat. However, in Yemen, you were not allowed to have a dog in your house because they were considered unclean. In Ibb, I could see mountains from the window of my room. The food tasted good. In Ibb, people eat together three times a day because you couldn’t eat by yourself. In the morning we drank tea and ate something that looked like a pancake with honey. After two o’clock, everybody would come home and we would eat lunch. We ate chicken and rice and عصيد. Dinner would be home fries. After that, we would go to sleep. When I was a child and came to the United States, I had a bad feeling. I felt this way because I had left my people back home and it’s not easy to make new friends. My friends in Yemen were the people I first went to school with; they were like my brothers because we grew up together.

Exodus

When I was seven-years-old, I found out that I was moving to the United States. When I moved to the United States, I found out both where I came from and where I was going. I used to think there was only one country in the world, and that was Yemen. My emotions were sad and I think my family was sad too because when you move from where you grew up, your friends, and the things you like, you never think that you would have to move away from them. But when that happens, you feel like everything was all a dream. When I and my family prepared to leave, we packed everything that we had in the house. I feel sad remembering things from when I was back home, because I remember what I used to do and see in that world.

The Crossing

I left Yemen to go to the United States with my family on December 29, 2007. I thought about my school where I used to go in back home in my country. I liked my school back home because I had my friends. I liked school because it helped people learn how to keep themselves from bad things. When I came to the United States it was like coming to a new house. Everything in the United States was different from my country. For example, cars in the United States looked new and are different colors. There were different languages. And everything looked new: houses looked big and schools looked nice. I have lived in the United States for eight years. I am both happy and unhappy that I crossed into the United States. I’m happy because I moved with my family and I’m unhappy because I left the place where I grew up.

Into Another Land

The first place I went in the United States was the Bronx. My first thoughts and feelings when I was arrived in the United States were sad because I didn’t speak English. I thought how am I going to learn English? I saw new houses and new cars in New York which made the country look nice. Some things felt the same though I kept thinking I’m in Yemen. The only thing that is different from New York in Yemen is the time. What I mean is that, one day, I called my friend in Yemen at 12pm and he told me that that it was 8pm there. So I found out that there is eight hours difference.
A New Life

The first place I lived in the United States was in New York in the Bronx. My family and I got a new house when we moved to the United States. But I still missed my old house back in my country. It’s where I grew up. Can you imagine how it feels to leave your first house? The new house was not big like other house in Yemen. But we made the new house look like the old house—like that same feeling like you were in Yemen. When I started school in the United States, I was sad because I did not have two things. One was that I didn’t know how to speak the language. The other was I did not have friends to be with or to speak to or even anyone who knew my language. It is not easy when you start a new life because everything will be different. This is like my second life, and it’s different from my first life.

Shade and Light

Sometimes when you move to another country you have to change. What I mean by you have to change is that you have to be like the people in the new country. You have to do what they do and eat the food that they eat. Some things in my life changed. For example, my language changed. Sometimes people who move to United States have a positive experience. When I moved, I had positive experiences—like when I started school. Sometimes people have negative experiences when they come to United States. For example, some of my new friends in the United States have told me they had a negative experience because they leave their family back home. But I do have any negative feelings about coming to the United States. Now when I’m in the United States, I’m happy because I know a lot of different things. For example, I know English now. People need to know from my story that it is not easy to move to another country because you have to learn a lot of different things like and you have to be like them.

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