Q: What are you most afraid of right now?
A: I’m most afraid of failure.
Q: Has there ever been pressure from your household or from other students to pursue academics?
A: Definitely. My parents, [they] are immigrants. They’re so strict, and they’re Arab, too. They’ve always pushed me to like college, get a good degree, get a good job, and all that.
Q: Do you want to tell us a bit about how your experience has been as a child of immigrants? Having pressure on you, how is that different?
A: I feel the pressure is much more when it comes to kids who are children of immigrants because they come to this country completely new. They don’t speak the language or anything like that. And they’re learning everything from the very beginning. There is so much pressure [for immigrants] to understand documents that they get and [need] translate[d] for them, and then go on to school. You’re bilingual pretty much for the rest of your life, with English and whatever language you speak. There’s a lot of pressure with that, too.
Do you have a specific instance, where you felt that sort of dynamic? Do you have a specific story?
A: I remember literally all the time having to help my dad with his resume; type it out for him and everything. I remember in fifth grade, I had to do it. My mom was taking college classes for her bachelor’s degree. There was an English course that she had to take, it was pretty simple English because she didn’t know English very well at the time. So I would read her books, and then I would write essay[s] for her and she would submit [them]. Wow, it was so fun. I got money for it, though.