Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (Mama)

by Safa Ghnaim, http://www.safasofia.com, June 3, 2011

My mom, lovely photo by Jen Dougherty

In writing a reflection paper for my class on multicultural education, I thought of my mom. I am now going to tell you why I think my mom is amazing.

I could write many books about her childhood, with the stories I know and the many stories I don’t know, but I won’t. What I will say is something we all know, that women work thanklessly and tirelessly, especially in the Middle East. As one of the oldest children, my mom worked hard to help raise her siblings and take care of them physically and emotionally. My mother to this day remarks on the innocence of her brothers and sisters growing up and how much she deeply cares for them.

My mom is a natural born mom.

In addition to help raise her many brothers and sisters, she worked as a teacher and as a girl scouts leader, touching the lives of many youth, she raised me and my sisters, and is now working hard to help care for my niece and nephew. I will say that she is still mothering in very thankless conditions, when she should be relaxing and celebrating her accomplishments.

My mom is a pioneering feminist.

Growing up as a displaced person/refugee, her passion in life has been human rights, but primarily women’s rights. Back in the 70′s she was invited to the Olympics as a representative of Palestine, but was not allowed to go because traveling in such a way would be unlady-like. My mom raised me and my sisters to make our own decisions and be independent. To this day she teaches about the unwritten language of women in the Middle East: embroidery.

My mom is an artist.

My mom learned traditional Palestinian embroidery when she was seven years old, and taught it to my sisters and I when we were even younger. Here is a video taken at PSU via the World Affairs Council: http://vimeo.com/15369972 of my mom talking about the stories behind our embroidery and this ancient form of communication. The 1985 international women’s conference where her art was displayed is described in further detail here:http://www.5wwc.org/conference_background/1985_WCW.html

There are countless other reasons of why my mom is amazing, but I will save them for another time.