I Belong in Art

“Most of my childhood that I actually really remember is in the United States, so I am still struggling to find a home.”

Edited by Nick Ladeau.

Transcript for I Belong in Art

I think if I was a fundamentalist and Muslim, I would not feel welcome here. Not in the sense that they’re… that people here are not welcoming, but the fact that it’s a Christian affiliated school. There are Christian traditions that the school follows. But I think one of the reasons I feel welcome—the kind of person I am—the reason I feel like it is because there’s an intellectual openness. I’m allowed, you know, to go to the library, read whatever I want. You know, I’m allowed to share my opinions, be it, you know, be anti religion, or what have you. So having that openness in an environment where it is Christian affiliated, religiously affiliated, this wouldn’t be possible in a Muslim school, in Afghanistan, or, in whatever, in Middle East. This wouldn’t be possible. So the fact that this is possible in a religious school, and that people are welcoming, I think it has opened me more to Christianity, to understand Christians. So I felt welcome in that sense that people will accept me, people will actually listen to me, and they will not just dismiss me because, you know, I’m a… I speak against Christianity. So I think that that’s, that’s, that was appealing to me. 

I don’t really have a home because I never really grew up in a place where my parents felt like there was their home, or I felt like it was my home. So it was always in somewhere foreign. And most of my childhood that actually really remember is in the United States, so I am still struggling to find a home, and I would want it to be in Afghanistan. Because that’s really where I want to really do work in there. I want to write, you know, I want to publish books, or what have you open up… open literary journals, what have you, do that, you know, revolutionize Afghan literature, give it something. So that would be… I don’t really have a home, so I don’t think I could say belong in Valpo, but I do feel welcome. I don’t think, there’s a place that I can say belong, where it fits. I can only say I belong in art. And in that realm of intellect, the intellectual culture, I belong in there. But I don’t belong in a certain, in a certain place. 

My dad went to went to Afghanistan for, I think, a year or so to visit family members. My mom has. my mom doesn’t… my dad has family members in Afghanistan, so he went there for a year. And he came back and he was very depressed. He thought that, you know, the state of Afghanistan is just so depressing. So I am… I’m aware that, you know, it’s a very impoverished country, that it’s gonna be very depressing. And I don’t speak the language half as well to be able to survive there—I’m still learning—but I think it’s that drive that this is my country, I cannot stand back and criticize my country and not do anything about it. I have to go in there myself, and take on something which is education or art, what have you, and make that my own and perform it in some way, to, you know, to establish myself in Afghanistan. I think that would outweigh my personal feelings about where I’m living, perhaps if I have electricity or what have you. I think that would outweigh that because I have a passion for it.

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