From the Desk of the Council: Shefa’a Tawil

Rain, but not the type with water.  

It’s dust, raining down because the bomb that just struck disintegrated everything.  

Dust that is full of life, there’s human ashes in there.  

Dust falls into the open eyes of the dead.  

Their blood soaks into the Dust penetrated ground, even in death, this world knows their true home.  

Dust that I can still feel choking me as I breathe.  

Is it Dust that can tell the story of people like you and me? 

Like most people, the end of the year is a time that reflection truly grips me — much more than most other times throughout the year. Why? There’s so much to think through, review, and plan for.  

This winter, I will go back to visit Palestine for the first time in a few years. My heart is happy to be home. I’m excited to see my family members and to live in an atmosphere that knows and identifies with that marginalised part of me. I am ready to wake up in the morning to the calls of athan; to smell the fresh za’atar being baked every morning; to smile at the street vendor who doesn’t know my name, but I know misses my face. I’m ready for the stories I can tell with my goofy cousins and all the adventures I will come back with, no matter the amount of time that has passed since I’ve been back. Home is home, and when I am there, my heart will always be happy. 

I’m not ready to see all who I’ve lost. I’m not ready to experience discrimination based on my identity – to be stopped at checkpoints with a gun in my face asking for my identification from an Israeli soldier. I’m not going to lie, there isn’t a way to prepare for apartheid. I’ve tried to prepare myself mentally – but how can I even begin to do so? The reality is that my existence is resistance, whether I want it that way or not. Every breath I take is a breath that some people want to extinguish. My existence is resistance. 

The things I’ve seen and been through still haunt me. The things that I will see, will do the same. There isn’t a way to tell the people I love that I may not come back. There isn’t a way to tell them that I’m not afraid of this. So I share this poem with you, and I ask: 

Is it the story that the Earth tells, that can tell the story of people like you and me?  

About the author:

Shefa’a Tawil

Shefa’a is a second-year student pursuing a Psychology major (BS) on a pre-medicine track along with a certificate in Public Health and Writing with an Arabic minor.  Shefa’a is currently involved in Hawkeye Taekwondo, Sunset Club, apart of the DEI Internal Committee, along with Gardening Club, MSA and numerous other clubs.  Shefa’a finds pleasure in the outdoors, in time spent reflecting and being around family (for short amounts of time, that is). 


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