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Young Writers Project: Challenging Changes

Hamara Mubarak

Hamara Mubarak wrote this piece in response to the VPR-YWP Middle School Writing Challenge. Hamara’s story, which has elements of a typical American middle-schooler’s, is anything but typical as she describes her parents’ flight from war and her own experiences as a new arrival in Vermont on a snowy day.

Challenging Changes
By Hamara Mubarak
Grade Eight, Edmunds Middle School

My family is not from here. I came from Kenya, Africa. My parents walked for months just to get my family somewhere safe from war. My parents were originally from Somalia, but with all the war they had to leave. They walked from Somalia all the way to Kenya. It wasn’t an easy journey.

There were more than 300 people. Some had kids and even newborns. They didn’t have enough food to feed everyone every day. There were no bathrooms. My bathroom was my backyard. On our way to the refugee camp my older brother and I were born in Kakuma, Kenya.

When we finally arrived at the refugee camp, it was challenging. There wasn’t enough food. We had to wait till it rained to find water. We had to hunt, or grow our own crops for food. My two brothers were born in the refugee camp. We left Africa when I was four years old.

I got off something big that flew me across the world. I didn’t know what an airplane was. I didn’t even know how to speak English yet. I didn’t come in a good season because it was snowing and I was not used to the snow. I didn’t even know what that was. I went outside from the airport and all I saw were these white, soft dots touching my face. I leaned my head back and I stuck out my tongue. That was the first time I ever saw snow.

The years went by and I got older. I went from desks to tables, cubbies to locker, four classrooms to eight classrooms, and paper to Chromebooks. Middle school has been a real challenge for me. There are some great things and some not-so-great things about it. In middle school everyone changes. You have to find the right friends: the ones that won’t get you in trouble, the ones that have your back. Everyone has their different opinion in the friend idea. I have some friends that my other friends don’t like, which is hard. I have my strengths and I have my weaknesses. My strengths are writing and reading and sometimes math. My weaknesses are science and social studies.

I usually say I hate middle school, which sometimes I do, but I wouldn’t be in middle school right now if it wasn’t for my parents. Without all of the hard work my parents put in to get me here I would never have gotten where I am now. I am ready to leave middle school, enjoy high school, and try not to have bumps in the road.

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