"So my father never accounted to me. When my son said to me,
'If people kill each other here all the time. And if, let’s say, your Prime Minister
has an opinion that’s different than yours. And if it’s difficult for you to say
sometimes what you want? They when why do we stay here?'”


My name is Emen Anaam, I am sixteen years old; I was born in America but my parents were born in Yemen in the Middle East. I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters; my favorite sport is basketball. I love the sport -- I have been playing it since I was 5 years old and I will try to accomplish my dream to make it big.

I grew up in New Britain CT; my parents were going through a lot of racism and discrimination when they first came here all because they are Muslims. They would walk or drive around the city and people would give them dirty looks or yell, “Get out of America -- you don't deserve to be here!” We are normal human beings just like everybody else and we still get treated differently.

My parents are everything to me and I’ve felt exactly what they were feeling; it's like a piece of their heart got torn off when they came to America to live the American Dream. Because of the promise of freedom they thought they would have a new start, a new beginning, but unfortunately it didn't go as planned. But they still fought through it and accomplished enough to get me and my brothers and sisters a roof over our heads and an education to help us achieve our goals, and we won't let them down.

I have an older brother that I look up to; he is like my role model when my parents aren't around. He helped me a lot in life because my parents didn't know how to speak English so anything we did or went to he would translate for them and me and my siblings. Now I and my siblings can help translate too. I have a big family -- lots of cousins, uncles, and aunts. There is this holiday that we celebrate called Eid; it's a time when all of our family gets together and eats together and just has a great time. It happens twice every year; we go out and enjoy the whole day.

When school first started I was very happy I was going to kindergarten; I couldn't believe it the first couple days. It was awesome, but during the middle of the school year I was struggling; I needed help with my English so it was very difficult for me, but I worked very hard and passed my classes all the way up to 5th grade. Then here came middle school; it was a huge change. It was time to grow up and get a little sense into me so that I could mature and get ready for high school.

In middle school there were a lot of sad things going on; one of the reasons I didn't like middle school was because the fake friends I had they would talk to me but then they would ask me questions about my religion and if I believe in God, or do we Muslims have our own God. I would get mad on the inside but I wouldn't show it.

When I was near them they would laugh at me and make jokes because of the horrible things going on in the Middle East or here in America. Just by looking at the media they would make jokes like, “TIC TIC BOOM!” in front of me. I would laugh with them, but I wasn't really laughing; I was just showing them I was a cool kid, trying to fit in with them. But over the years that passed it just got worse and worse. But I was strong and I fought through it all. And it wasn't only me going through that problem but also my older brother and sister. They told me how they dealt with it and how they fought through all the pain, so that helped me. But still the words that my friends were saying just kept me down for the whole school year. I would walk around the halls and someone would shout, “Why do you have a bomb in your book bag?” I would just pay no mind and walk away. I learned a big lesson in life: NEVER GIVE UP, no matter what the situation is, and everything happens for a reason.

A couple years passed and it got a lot better because I found the right friends and they helped me a lot. Anything I did or said they never made fun of me, and that’s why I’m still with them till this day. And good things happened to me; I made the high school basketball team during the first year of high school and that helped me focus more on my education and my big dream.