Nezar Elwan is a graduating senior from RNE’s class of 2023. He has been a part of Cavplex since his junior year of high school, and he plans on attending The University of South Carolina to study psychology.
“Everything has a purpose? What is my purpose? What will I do in my life?”
As I laid in bed, those questions came to me in the dead of night. There was no answer to my questions. The only thing I got back was even more questions.
“What are the chances of my conception?”
My parents struggled to conceive me, as my mother cannot naturally be pregnant. So much money, time, struggle, and stress was made just for me to even be a possibility.
“What are the chances of being raised in a first world country?”
Both of my parents are from occupied Palestine, it’s nearly impossible to leave and start again in somewhere completely foreign to them. To get the money and courage to start again in a place with a completely different culture and language, it must have been extremely difficult.
“What are the chances of me being successful?”
My father’s family was not completely supportive of his education, and currently the rest of his family does not value it either. Had I been born to anyone else in the family, I would not be nearly as hardworking or intelligent.
“What are the chances of having a great mother in my life?”
A vast majority of the women in Palestine are uneducated, do not have a sense of awareness, and are frankly encouraged to be materialistic, as are the men and children. My mother is one of the few who is aware of her surroundings, has an education, and has a higher sense of value in metaphysical concepts.
“What are the chances of being born in a loving and caring family?”
I did not have an answer for this. Why does my family care for me? Is it because it’s in their nature? A majority of my family doesn’t know me personally whatsoever, but they still love me. I don’t understand why.
“There must be a reason why I was born into this world.”
I thought that maybe if I was able to answer those questions, I’d be able to find the answers to my original questions. It doesn’t matter, maybe I’ll find out when I wake up. Afterall, here I am in the land of my family and ancestors. Maybe if I spend time with the rest of my family, I’ll be able to understand my purpose some more.
There was never a moment where I woke up naturally in Palestine. I’d always be woken up by my uncle or my dad at seven in the morning for some bizarre reason that I didn’t really care for. Be it to eat breakfast, to go to the crowded marketplace, or to prepare for my schedule to be occupied by my family members. I just wanted to sleep for another thirty minutes. Of course, rest isn’t an option in Palestine. For three weeks, there was no such thing as having alone time, except at night so that I could sleep. For that reason, I would find myself getting tired a lot.
I couldn’t show that I was tired, though. I would spend time with my cousins nearly every second of the day. I had to be awake. But even after a week, I knew them, and they didn’t really know me. They praised me for being from America, but I consider myself Palestinian. I don’t perfectly match the western culture, nor did I match the Palestinian culture. Maybe it was because I was different that they loved me?
Every one of my relatives smoked hookah or vaped. I refused to do so, and would intentionally make fun of them for it. Their main and only goal was to make money, to get married, and have children. Perhaps it was because a lot of them were fairly low income, and that was the society they were raised in, but that wasn’t what I was interested in. They all cut their hair the same way, but I laughed at them for all having the same look. After spending time with them for over a week, I noticed that they were all just the same.
They saw, and were able to interact with someone different for, perhaps, the first time in their lives. All the adults were the same, all the children were the same, and all the young adults were also all the same.
A few days later, they decided to celebrate my birthday, two days before my birthday. It was supposed to be “my party”, but I didn’t act like it. I didn’t consider that day to be for me, I just saw it as a day that the family would get together. I walked around passively, I played with my cousins sometimes, and other times just wanted to stay alone. Later on they had cake, and I got the first slice. I proceeded to grab my plate, and walk off to somewhere more quiet.
My cousin approached me, and asked why I was away from all the action. I just told her that I didn’t want to be around all the noise, and just wanted somewhere peaceful without a lot of people around.
“What I like about you is you’re not like all the other boys in Gaza, you’re more disciplined.”
Perhaps I needed to hear that from my cousin. She wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t consider myself disciplined. I just smiled and thanked her for the compliment.
Although it sounds like my experience was purely negative, there were some great moments I had with them. Most of the time I would play a condescending character and make fun of some of them for their bad habits, and they would laugh along. I played chess with some of my cousin’s friends. We played video games together, we would talk about all sorts of topics. I would tell them a little about America, and would watch their shocked expressions. I would watch as my uncles would treat one another like children, and would bicker with each other. It was fun seeing that, considering I don’t have any siblings, and it was the only experience of my family I was able to remember. There were moments I was tired, but overall it was a great time to know my family.
Once the three weeks had finished, it was time to leave Palestine and my family. They hugged me, got emotional, and would even start crying. I still remember my grandfather crying as he told me goodbye. But I still didn’t understand why they loved and cared for me so much. When I think about it, every single thing in my life is meant to build me up to absolute success. The single most important thing for success is a loving family. Those questions that I asked myself, they were meant to guide me to answering the original questions. When I could not answer the final questions, I had physically experienced the answer myself. It doesn’t matter if I had an answer, because certainly, God has a plan for me.