Marwa Harp & Zeenat Harp


marwa harp & zeenat harp

Difference between here and Lebanon

Marwa’s mom, Zeenat, speaks about her experience going to high school during war in Lebanon.

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Difference between here and Lebanon

Marwa: Daughter
Zeenat: Mother

Marwa: So how did this interfere with, like, your aspirations, like with schooling or with dreams to, like, move? I know you said that you couldn't move because, like, you didn't know which countries would accept you but just, like, living a life in Lebanon, did that stop you from meeting your friends...

Zeenat: Yeah, of course. You know war, of course did that. 

Marwa: Yeah.

Zeenat: Especially going to school. I remember, especially in my middle school or high school, I used, we used to go like a week to school and stay home like for a month or two months. So we don't have enough time to go to school because of war. We don't know when it's going to start. Sometimes we were in the middle of the class and, you know, they start, you know, firing so we have to leave. And our school is far, and we used to go walking to school. It's like 20 or 40 minute walking from our house, and we used to go in the afternoon for high school, so I had to come, like it was middle of the night sometimes. It was a tough time. That's why it was very hard to attend school. So, especially my junior and sophomore and junior year –

Marwa:  Of high school?

Zeenat: Yes. It was very, very tough. Before that, even though it was war, but I don't understand, I was young. During elementary school and middle school, I didn't know a lot because, you know, our parents used to take us, and it was very close to the house. But high school, it was very, very tough attending high school.

Marwa: And that was, you said, sophomore/junior year, that was also the time when you –

Zeenat: I came –

Marwa: – moved to, came to America.

Zeenat: Yeah, I came during my junior year. 

Marwa: It's when you met baba –

Zeenat: Yeah –

Marwa: – and you got married.

Zeenat: Yeah, we got married, and we came here. Then my family decided that time ,"Oh, okay, we have an open, like, a door to come,” then they came as a refugee to Canada.

Marwa: Okay.

Zeenat: So, and we saw the difference, a lot of difference between here and Lebanon. The opportunity to go to school, the life here –

Marwa: Do you think it's the opportunity because there wasn't a war going on or just because the –

Zeenat: Everything. 

Marwa: – education system is very different?

Zeenat: It's everything. I have to admit. It's everything. 

Note about copyright, attribution, and citation:  StoryCorps holds the copyright to the audio recordings of interviews and to the photographs of the participants; StoryCorps has licensed limited use of those to the Bureau of Study Counsel/Harvard University.  Harvard University owns the copyright to all other material on the First-Gen Voices website (bsc.harvard.edu/first-gen-voices).  Quotations of the transcripts and translations of interviews from the website by parties other than StoryCorps and the Bureau of Study Counsel should be attributed/cited as follows: “This excerpt is from a website created by the Bureau of Study Counsel of Harvard University with interviews recorded by StoryCorps (www.storycorps.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity's stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

 


marwa harp & zeenat harp

Maintaining relationships

Zeenat describes living life now that both of her children live away from home.


marwa harp & zeenat harp

Pushing the limits and meeting expectations

Marwa discusses the sense of freedom and independence she experienced in attending Harvard.

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Pushing the limits and meeting expectations

Marwa: Daughter
Zeenat: Mother

Marwa: I just, I love that it started off as, I just think it's funny that at first it was hard for me to go down the street to the store, then it was hard for me, then like, you loosened up on that, and then I was allowed to leave the city and go to somewhere further away, and then I was allowed to come to a different state, and then after that I was allowed to go to a different country by myself and just every year I get this, like, more sense of, this greater sense of freedom and independence, and it's gradually built from like nothing to like –

Zeenat: Yeah.

Marwa: – something super large and I, I think that's really interesting and cool.

Zeenat: So you're not regretting coming here?

Marwa: I don't regret, no, I don't regret it. I do, like during stressful periods of school and whatnot I wish I was at home just because, like, I need people. It's sometimes hard, I forget about my health and, like, myself and sometimes, like, everybody else around you is concerned with what they're doing so there's no one there to care for you. But at home I know if I'm letting myself get stressed out that you guys would be there to support me...

Zeenat: Yeah, but –

Marwa:  – or like come and provide me with like tea or like my favorite foods that you don't get here. 

Zeenat: But I try my best to tell you to call, text me, so we can talk –

Marwa:  Yeah we still do that long distance-ly –

Zeenat:  – Yeah, even when we're apart

Marwa: – and you always give me that hope. Yeah. I've realized that, like, I've come into college with a different, like a different starting point from what a lot of people here have come with. A lot of people here have like went to, gone to private schools, had all these like prep courses and whatnot that I don’t have and I thought that on my first exam I should be doing as high as everybody else is doing until I remember calling you and you saying like "Just do your best. It doesn't matter if it's not what everybody else is doing. Just do what you know is best and then leave the rest to God."

Zeenat: Yeah, these are my words.

Marwa:  And that has become my mantra.

Note about copyright, attribution, and citation:  StoryCorps holds the copyright to the audio recordings of interviews and to the photographs of the participants; StoryCorps has licensed limited use of those to the Bureau of Study Counsel/Harvard University.  Harvard University owns the copyright to all other material on the First-Gen Voices website (bsc.harvard.edu/first-gen-voices).  Quotations of the transcripts and translations of interviews from the website by parties other than StoryCorps and the Bureau of Study Counsel should be attributed/cited as follows: “This excerpt is from a website created by the Bureau of Study Counsel of Harvard University with interviews recorded by StoryCorps (www.storycorps.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity's stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

 

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first-gen voices

First Gen Voices

The Bureau of Study Counsel collaborated with StoryCorps to record conversations between first-generation-to-college Harvard College juniors and their parents (or other members of their family or community).

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