The Best of The Tempest: Life edition. Our favorite 7 stories from 2019.

2019 was a year. While in the grand scheme of human history it probably won’t register as particularly significant, it was a year where womxn and femmes, and basically anyone who isn’t a cishet white man, started to find words to speak their truth. We talked about deeply traumatic experiences. We shared pain. But we also shared resiliency. So in no particular order, these are the Life Editor’s top picks for 2019.

1. “I couldn’t speak about my assault for years, until now” by

I couldn’t speak about my assault for years, until now

We all know assault sucks, but to describe it and confront it in writing? That’s something special.

2. “We’re all the victims in a world of school shootings” by  

We’re all the victims in a world of school shootings

In an America where shootings seem to happen every other day, a deep and personal narrative describing the effects of such happens is so important. Even if you haven’t been directly involved in a shooting, the PTSD hits us all in its own way.

3. “My neighborhood believes in walls and privacy, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed a week without a wall” by

My neighborhood believes in walls and privacy, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed a week without a wall

Walls are made for privacy but are they hurting human compassion and sympathy? During one week without a wall in the suburbs of Johannesburg, this author discovered an entirely new side to her neighborhood. But at the end of that week, the wall went back up and the camaraderie faded. Is privacy worth it?

4. “I wish people talked more about this depression symptom” by

I wish people talked more about this depression symptom

Brain fog is a real and horrific effect of depression that doesn’t nearly get enough attention. Brain fog refers to a cluster of symptoms that affect thinking, memory and recollection. Moreover, it affects more than just those with depression. Understanding each other is the first step to making this world a better and more accepting place.

5. “What I didn’t know about life after graduation” by

What I didn’t know about life after graduation

Moving from the freeform setup of college into the abyss of the unknown is terrifying for everyone. We think the real world will offer the same freedom but, instead, we take any and all jobs that will pay the rent and offers health insurance.

6. “Here’s why I’m done helping you with your white guilt” by

Here’s why I’m done helping you with your white guilt

It is not up to women of color to make you feel better about your inherent racism. The everyday turmoil of microaggressions and stress placed on the shoulders of POC is simply unfair and exhausting.

7. “I lost my faith in religion. Now I have to tell my Muslim parents” by

I lost my faith in religion. Now I have to tell my Muslim parents

Something changed in this author’s faith over time. Slowly, she began to listen to music, dance and lose her passion for Islam. Is she still Muslim? Why couldn’t she connect?

Life is nuts but when we share our experiences the world gets a little closer and we understand each other a little better. Cheers to 2019!

Food & Drinks Life

7 delicious Arab foods you absolutely need in your life

For many first-generation Arab immigrants one of the pressures we face is to be as connected to our native culture as possible. Having a connection to your mother country isn’t a bad thing at all, it just can be hard sometimes, especially if you speak broken or no Arabic. Thankfully, one of the more delicious ways to bring Arab culture into your life is through food.

In a sea of McDonald’s and Burger Kings, however, it’s not always easy to find something as good as the food you can get back in the native country. Personally, I’m Egyptian-American so finding an authentic Egyptian-based (or even just generally Middle Eastern-based) restaurant is like finding a needle in a haystack; it’s very hard to find, and when you do, it usually isn’t the best. So, for me, I grew up on my mom’s food where every other week or so, we’d have fatir for breakfast, goulash for lunch, mologhaia (also spelled molokhia) for dinner.

Now, my mother’s food is absolutely amazing and I live for the days when I can have goulash for breakfast, lunch and dinner (it’s THAT good). However, I can’t exactly squeeze all you readers into my mother’s kitchen, therefore, I bring to you a list of seven salivatingly delicious Arab foods that will have you going for thirds, fourths, even fifths:

1. Fatir

[Image Description: Fatir presented on a plate.]
This thin pastry is perfectly complemented with honey and/or sugar, and your mom will still let you eat it for breakfast!

2. Shakshuka

[Image Description: Shakshuka inside a pan.]
Shakshuka is basically the love child of eggs and ground beef, with your choice of vegetables sprinkled about. Personally, I like no veggies on my shakshuka but you do you boo.

3. Goulash

[Image Description: Two pieces of Goulash on a plate.]
Of all the Arab foods in the world, goulash is fave because it is soft (yet slightly) crispy phyllo bread, stuffed with either ground beef, cheese, spinach or all three, and it is HEAVENNNNNNNN….I live for goulash.

4. Mologhaia

[Image description: Mologhaia presented on a plate.]
This lovely mixture is a dark green sauce I like to eat with rice and some chicken but it’s still just as lovely by itself as a soup.

5. Koshari

[Image Description: Koshari presented in small cups with different sauces.]
Koshari is a combo of macaroni shells, rice, red sauce (typically tomato sauce), lentils and fried onions.  Koshari reigns high on my fave foods list, second only to goulash. And if you happen to go to Cairo, Egypt anytime soon, pass by Koshari Tahrir in Tahrir Square because theirs is the best….after my mom of course 😉

6. Shawarma

Shawarma - 8 Foods you Should Taste in Egypt
[Image Description: Shawarma wrapped in aluminium foil presented with vegetables.]
This is a pita sandwich with lamb or chicken, tzatziki sauce and any kind of vegetable you may or may not want! Eating it is absolute heaven and I highly suggest having just lamb and tzatziki sauce as it is mmm, mmm, good!

7. Zalabia

Image result for Egyptian Zalabia
[Image Description: Zalabia presented on a plate.]
If I had to pick one non-chocolate dessert to eat for the rest of my life it would be zalabia. I mean, just imagine such fluffy goodness – basically a better version of a doughnut hole – combined with honey, sugar and/or any kind of melted chocolate….oh gosh, sorry about that, I was drooling at the thought of zalabia. *sighs*

Now you guys are ready to up the ante and impress your friends and family next time you have to make some food last minute for a potluck, or rather, the next time you get that undeniable, what-ever-shall-I-do craving for amazing food. You’ll be thanking me when you take that first bite of goulash and sigh happily. You’re welcome in advance.

Gender & Identity Life

I forgot my Arabic tongue, and lost my homeland in the process

I live in a town where there are few Arabs, let alone minorities. The demographics of my school are similar. I speak English at home, I speak English at school, and I even speak English at the mosque.

My mother and father speak Arabic fluently, but I do not. I wish there was more emphasis on speaking Arabic at home, but there isn’t. I can’t blame my parents because it also comes down to my siblings and me. We should have listened when years ago, my parents would encourage us to speak Arabic to one another. It seems like they slowly gave up and now conversations at the dinner table are almost entirely in English.

At school, it’s the same story. Though there are some other Arabs at my college, we greet each other in English and do not hold conversations with one another in Arabic. I feel like I’m slowly becoming more and more disconnected from my Arab roots.

I know that I could be making a greater effort to speak Arabic more and change the way things are currently. I have tried, but it is so difficult to speak Arabic consistently when I’m used to speaking English all the time.

It’s not just me; many other second-generation Americans are facing similar dilemmas. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that second-generation Americans are much more likely than their parents to speak English. When you parent’s homeland feels so distant, you embrace your American culture more.

It’s a difficult challenge trying to balance embracing your roots while simultaneously attempting to fit into the society you have grown up in. This struggle reminds me of the words of Ijeoma Umebinyuo, a Nigerian born poet and author. In one of her poems she eloquently wrote:

So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
Never enough for both.

Often I feel like I am too American to be Arab, but then sometimes I feel like I’m not American enough. I want to develop a stronger appreciation for the Arabic language, but it is difficult when there is little encouragement from the people around you.

Additionally, there are so many benefits to being bilingual. Speaking two languages has benefits like increasing mental development and helping with concentration and multitasking skills. Not only does being bilingual allow you to connect well with others, but it also puts you at an advantage in the job market.

Assimilation occurs in many ways, but I don’t believe anyone should compromise their language to fit in more. If you speak two or more languages well, never ever let go of that.

I wish I could have said this to my younger self before I started to let Arabic slip away from me.