Oct 02

“Ambassadors never travel alone, because we travel with purpose.”

by in New York City - US, Road To Doha


I sat in the still darkness of the night, my toes hidden under the rough skin of my feet, my knees nearly pressing against my chest, my back curled like the decaying leaf of the fall flower, awaiting the coldness of winter to cover it. My hands pressed against my warm mouth trying to suppress the sounds of my sorrow from leaking into the atmosphere, for if my whimper were heard, neighboring eyes will know that I am crying. It was my third night in New York, and I felt alone. I was in a new city with new students, momentarily living a new life. I was the only student from my city, and one of two American students in a group of six, the other four were Qatari. And I felt especially alone being the only American in our room. Yet, was I really left alone or did I choose to be alone?

In the following days, we, as a group, visited a college, talked to over eight ambassadors of organizations and foundations and ate in eight different restaurants, yet, I didn’t notice my self-lonesome until the Bill Clinton Awards dinner. We were sitting in the dimmed light together awaiting the event to happen and that’s when I saw it; In all of our faces was excitement and wonder, and inspiration soon made its way. It was when I heard that each Clinton Global Initiative winner, were leaders and innovators within their communities, and it resonated in me that I was not alone.

I realized that ambassadors never travel alone, because we travel with purpose. Our purpose is to expose the beauty of our cultures and the struggles that we overcame. A lot like my peers, my life is detailed with struggles, differences and conflicts that were meant to challenge me. I, unfortunately, thought that because I wasn’t similar to my Qatari friends that I was alone and dejected. But what I soon understood was that this was why I was here because I am different and my story needs to be told. The following day I found courage and strength found its way into my voice. I told my roommates about my family, I showed them the scars of the past that I have endured of racism, depression and  the economical struggles of my father after the job cuts of Xerox. I wanted to cry that night, but I heard a voice in me to “stay strong, they need to witness this strength you have.”

Was it my pride, my unclear denial of my feelings, my depression, my hunger for love and thirst for affection that made me feel this mixture of pride, hope, faith and even love? Was it the love of my family that made me prideful? The knowledge that someone cared that made me hopeful? Did the faith in my Qatari friends to listen to me, not just hear me, but actually listen to the pain, love and strength that my family and culture has given me, make me faithful?  I don’t know what it was, but all I knew was that I was freed that night, and I knew tonight my pillow wouldn’t be covered with tears of a lonesome shoulder, but the head of a freed woman of her history.

I guess one could think that I went through confession, but I didn’t, I just shared myself to strangers I’ve only known for four days. I, unlike the morning flowers that open in light and close in darkness, have bloomed in the complete illumination of the moon. I was never alone, as unique as my story was, they too had their own stories to share. I was cared about in every way humanly possible. It was this moment that being an ambassador was more than learning and understanding other cultures, it was revealing your culture and your experiences. Your hidden burning light was found in the darkness.

I thank my principal, Alan Mather and my Arabic teachers, Mrs. Goldstem and Mr. Abaghoush, for the support. Thank you QFI for the experience and thank you Qataris for the love and concern. Thank you God for everything you have done, for everything has its purpose. And lastly, thank you Mr. Patrick L. Sciarratta for this quote that I will try to follow more,”Be here for the now.”

By: Olivia McDowell, Youth Ambassador and student at Lindblom Math & Science Academy



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2 Responses to ““Ambassadors never travel alone, because we travel with purpose.””

  1. From Latrecia Wilson:

    Beautifully stated. Your feelings transcends all of our superficialities and reaches to the heart of many. Well done!

    Posted on October 2, 2012 at 7:16 pm #
  2. From Maggie Mitchell Salem:

    Olivia, what a revealing, moving tribute to a week of self-discovery and reflection on how connected we all really are! I so appreciated your emotional honesty and sincerity. Beautifully done. m

    Posted on October 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm #