How to Stay Connected Overseas

 In Connection, Voices of Young People

A poem from former Springtide intern, Norhan

When I was 9, I told Baba I figured it out:

“I know how to stay in touch with you when you’re in America without you spending any money!”

His look of curiosity encouraged his words to escape his lips:

“Keef?” How?

My small legs jumped me up,
ran to the room I shared with my sisters, brother, and mom.

I took a piece of paper from my sister’s notebook,
grabbing every broken crayon I found lying dead on the floor—
Bringing it back to life as I scribbled two lines on the page
one end meeting the other. 

Rushing back to Baba with my drawing, one better than da Vinci’s Mona Lisa,
and my Einstein brain

(although I thought I had already surpassed his brilliance).

“Baba, look!”
Baba’s look of confusion looked like support, so I continued.
“Baba, don’t you get it? We just need to build a bridge!”
“A bridge?”
“Why do we need to build a bridge?”
I looked at him confused by his question.
“Baba, didn’t you say that it’s hard for you to visit us often because of money?”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“Okay. Then we should build a bridge!”

“When you say build a bridge, you mean—”
“Baba! Build a bridge from Jordan to America!”

He looked confused,

“I don’t know, we tell the builders to do it!”

“What if people don’t want the bridge?” Baba asked.

“Baba, why would they not want us to stay in touch? All the people have moms and dads too.”

“Yes, that’s true, but you’re talking about America herself.”

“You should talk to them!”

Baba scratched his head, looked at the ceiling. I looked too to see what he was looking at.
He waited for a proper response to fall down. One that would be true and simple.

“Okay,” he says after a long staring contest with the ceiling (I think the ceiling won)
“say we got this bridge to work, what happens next?”

If my smile could reach farther from ear-to-ear, it would’ve done so.
“We can choose to either fly in the airplane or walk the bridge.”

“By walk the bridge, you mean like actually walking?”

“Baba, yes! I mean you always said it’s good for our bodies to exercise, so why not?”

Baba pressed his right hand to his forehead.

“Habibti, ma byenf3ish heyk”, sweetheart, that’s not how things work, he said.

I looked at him, saw baba’s dark shopping bags under his eyes, as it carried the weight of sleeplessness.

“What do you mean?”

“3’mri, how can all of you walk a bridge that long? What if someone gets sick or you get hungry?”

I sighed with relief. “Easy, Baba! I’ll show you!”

I brought the crayons, dulling the edges even more,
Drew boxes all the way down each of the lines.

“Shu hadh?” Baba asked.

“Those are vending machines so when we get hungry, we can eat snacks!”

Baba laughed, and I continued.

“And each family that chooses to walk the bridge will have one doctor with them in case we get sick.”

Baba laughed some more.

“So now what?”

“you need to talk to America and tell her about how we want to make it easier
For you to visit us.”

Khair InshAllah, he said.

“then that would show all the countries in the world how to stay connected!”

“So that they’ll build bridges too, right?” Baba caught on.

“yeah, Baba!”

“3’mri, one day, you’ll see how it takes so much more than family to stay connected with people you care about.”

I looked at him, confused.

I look at him now, and still wonder
How do you stay connected overseas?

Norhan Qasem is a recent graduate of Augsburg University and was a fall 2020 community engagement intern with Springtide. 

Blog post photo credit: 
Tom van Hoogstraten

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