In my life, I have moved eleven times. I have lived in eleven different houses and attended six different schools. I have experienced the death of a loved one and have been forced to leave my closest friends and family too many times to count.
The most we ever stayed in one place was four years between the times I was six and ten. Because of all these relocations, I always lost my friends and had to start all over again. In my mind, there was nothing exciting or advantageous in moving. When I was eleven, and in the sixth grade, I realized that my father was being transferred to Iran and I thought that my life was over. My parents were taking me away from the only place I had ever called home, away from the friends to whom I was becoming close, and away from the school I had adjusted to and come to love. I did not see anything positive or slightly beneficial in this latest change to my life.
From the moment I stepped off the plane, I had prepared myself for every possible disaster that could happen. I had promised not to make any friends, remembering all too clearly the pain of having them disappear, and I was unwilling to let myself warm to this new country.
Immediately I was enrolled in the all girls’ international school, where all the subjects were taught in English, save the two foreign language classes. The school was very daunting; the subjects were difficult and far from what I was used to. But this was not what struck out to me on my first day. I was most shocked with the students in the class. Not one girl was from the same place as another. Each had come from different parts of the globe: the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, and even Bangladesh. Despite my unwillingness to make friends, they all seemed eager to help me adjust to my new life in the Middle East. They remained patient with my lack of response to their kindness until very slowly I began to allow myself to become touched by these unusual girls. They began to show me the many amazing and different things about Iran I had remained blind to because of my initial emotions. I soon found myself caught up in the excitement of school and my new friends, anticipating the next day, the day after, and the day after that. By the time I had entered the second semester of eighth grade, I was a completely different person. I looked at everything from an optimistic viewpoint, always searching for at least one positive outcome in every situation.
In February 2005, my parents told me that we were moving once again, back to the states. This time, however, although sad at losing my new friends and having to start over yet again, I did not withdraw and imagine the worst. I thought ahead of what this was bringing into my life rather than what I was losing. With this biggest move, I gained the ability to move on and embrace new adventures while treasuring my memories more than to be haunted by them. Those extraordinary girls gave me the gift of love as I have never experienced, and this resulted in the personal growth I needed to accept the challenges of change; they proved to me that yes, sometimes life does hurt, but you can always laugh later.
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