Jack Jouett Chapter NSDAR
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This year the Jack Jouett Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, instituted The Bernard Joseph Fitzpatrick Memorial Scholarship through the Computers for Kids (C4K) Program in the Charlottesville area. Through this scholarship the Fitzpatrick family offers a laptop computer and a printer to a C4K student who has been accepted at a college or university. The student must complete a college-level essay which is administered by C4K. All essays are judged, and the winner chosen, by the Jack Jouett Board and the Fitzpatrick family.
Reprinted in its entirety with permission from its author
Albemarle High School
Turkmenistan is a small country in the Middle East, to the North of Afghanistan. People from Turkmenistan are called Turkmens. I am one of them. Despite the fact that both my parents and I were born in Iran, we are Turkmens. Our ancestors had moved to Iran a long time ago before there was any evidence of borders separating the lands between Iran and Turkmenistan. I moved to Turkmenistan when I was six months old and lived there until the age of twelve when we moved to the United States.
One of the hot Turkmenistan summers, my mother and I went to Iran to visit our family like we did every summer. Since the two countries are right next to each other, we went in a taxi, where my mother took her dark scarf out of her purse and put it on just before we reached the fences where the two lands connected. Crossing the border from Turkmenistan to Iran is like going from a desert to a forest. I recall standing on the border line half of my body in the hot breeze and the other half in a shade. On the other side of the border my third uncle greeted me with a kiss on the forehead that did not tickle for the first time due to his missing mustache. That was the last year I walked to Iran without my head covered. Every year after that I felt like a short old lady that would wear a colorful scarf on her head with a dash of red lipstick to show that her spirit is as young as a newborn. However, Iran's law that required females over age of 9 to wear scarfs did not affect my personality. Unlike my mother, I challenged their law by putting colorful scarfs instead of dark, depressing scarves that were worn to respect the law.
I had two lives. A life with a scarf and a life without one. While in Turkmenistan I was living the life of what teenage girls these days call "normal" and in Iran I was living the life of a "normal" Persian girl every summer. In Iran I had to cover my hair everywhere I went, where in Turkmenistan I only wore scarfs to school. Scarf styles and colors described a girl's mood and personality. I would always wear blue or green, because they were bright and described the lands and oceans around the world that I wanted to see.
Since I have taken my scarf off, I have also taken the restraints off of my mind. I have started my dream of seeing the world. I am no longer a "normal" girl of any country, because now I am myself. The real Nilu underneath the scarf came out into the real world she was looking for. I have gained my freedom and now it is time to explore and learn.