I never knew this day would come so soon.
And yet here I am, pondering the symbolism of my white kebaya, my graduation dress. The white of its laces represents the light of hope which still kindled within me, only a few weeks prior. Then, email after email came. Bombarding us with their false promises. Turning eyes to trembling glass. Now my kebaya is stuffed deep inside the dark folds of the closet. Its light is unreachable.
I never knew that the closure would happen like this. So suddenly, without the comfort of a prepared heart. Alone in my room, as the sky sheds its tears. Unlike the sky, I cannot cry anymore. Neither was I able to fully comprehend the emotions I felt—they seemed to wash over me like the waves of time that will soon separate us, my dear friends. It will inevitably make each of us less and less relevant to each other as our lives become busier and busier.
But this is the truth of time.
Despite all this, I can’t be more grateful for these past two years. In UWC, I found love and friendship. I felt the laughs and tears which we shared and shed together. I am happy for these blessed two years with some of the most wonderful, kind-hearted, and open-minded people I’ve ever known.
Through UWC I came to understand the realities of this world better.
The utter shock of realities came like showers of ice water. I have been there for a friend worried about her family at home, worried because the government cut the internet and she couldn’t contact them. Worried for her war-torn country. I have held the hands of my friend who shared the woes of her heart, the splinters of a shaky family life.
I have listened to my friends from Latin America as they shared their fears of terrorism, and their fears of walking alone, only because of their gender. The feeling that I realize now all women share across the world. I listened during Vagina Monologues as someone close to me shared her heart, her personal journey of coming to terms with herself and her own body. I listened as my friend shared how in her society, the topic of menstruation was taboo, shameful.
And I have been there for my friend when I clutched her wrists to prevent her from hitting herself. I repeated that she was safe, that those monsters weren’t real.
I have also seen the beauty of human nature. During last Ramadhan, my Muslim friends and I invited the school to fast with us. I couldn’t believe how many people joined, willing to starve themselves with us from dawn until dusk. We ate sahur together (the meal before the sun rises) in the International Kitchen. Many of us only had sloppy meals, like cereal, but it was being together that made the moment special. We prayed together. My non-Muslim friends watched us pray. I still remember when my Catholic friend said that he appreciates us sharing our culture to the community, because it reminds him of his family traditions during Easter. Then, together with a few other people, I helped a teacher from Turkey cook to prepare for breaking fast (iftar).
Although she herself didn’t fast, she was willing to make several delicious meals for us for several days, despite all her work. She made me realize that even though you don’t practice the “rituals” of a certain religion, you can sometimes be more religious than those who do practice it. I am still thankful to that woman for feeding all of us hungry children. I am sure she received several “sevvap points” (good karma) 😉.
I miss that time, very much.
These are only few of several stories. Our memories and time do not seem to synchronize. When we remember, it is not in the right order. When it is in the right order, we don’t remember. And yet…
Although the sufferings of my friends who cried are only a handful out of a million aching souls, there are many just like theirs around the world that cry for peace. Although the joys of my friends and their pure smiles are only a handful out of millions of others, they are extraordinary to me. Now the problems of people in other countries, which once seemed so far away, only blurry stories on the news, are much clearer and personal to me than ever before. Now I understand that I must always remember. I must treasure those memories. Although there was no nice neat string to tie this beautiful gift of UWC, I must find a way. I must remember all the tears, all the heartaches and headaches, all the love. I must find a way, to keep it in my heart.
For all of that, thank you my dear friends. Thank you, CSC.