Devastation fuels passion of Lebanese political science student

Yara Mukaled DJ[M]y coming of age story takes place during the June, 2006 Lebanese-Israeli War. My eyes were forced open that summer and I became aware of the world around me for the first time. I was pushed into adulthood as an eleven year old American girl who had never before imagined what could happen outside the borders of her home country. I was confused and scared and tried to repress all the awful memories.

We were locked in our Beirut apartment for weeks as the bombs outside ravaged the city. The children were not allowed near windows for fear of a stray bullet or the concussion of a bomb. At night, airstrikes and missiles echoed over a silent, darkened city. Shaking under the covers, my siblings and I sought refuge in our parents’ bed, only to find out that grown ups got scared too. My whole family left everything behind and paid a driver to take us to a more peaceful Northern Lebanon where we stayed at a run down motel for a couple days before making the long exodus to Syria.

While I initially did everything I could to forget the trauma, fear, and violence of that summer, I learned to accept it as an integral part of who I am and began to see the positive effects it had on me. I began to speak about my experiences, getting up in front of thousands of people at protests and talking about my story. I became more interested in international relations and began to read about problems around the world. At eleven and twelve years old I was participating in other protests and learning about global issues while my classmates were still trying to memorize the 50 states. My outlook on life and the world widened as I experienced just what my parents had experienced growing up in the war-stricken Lebanon of the 1970s and ‘80s.

Choosing the Political Science major at UC Berkeley was natural as the memories of that summer and the devastation I witnessed fueled my passion for international relations and political science. I saw the effects of violence and war not only on the infrastructure of a nation, but also on the hope and faith of a people. It was like everything I had studied in my history classes came to life. Graduating from Cal with a Political Science degree will allow me to use my global perspective and my experiences in a war zone to become an active American leader in foreign affairs and diplomacy. I want to show people what is going on across the ocean and participate in creating a more connected and peaceful world. I have experienced what my parents grew up with as children in Lebanon. I don’t want my children to experience the same.

We are proud to announce Yara Mukaled is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.