Today, I became Libyan again.
I feel that the time I have spent in the United States has diluted my identity a bit. We’ve been so caught up with the program that I haven’t had time to really sit and take it all in.
But today I got a chance to reconnect.
We headed over to the makeshift Libyan voting station – a Holiday Inn in Arlington – to participate in the first National Libyan Elections in over 40 years.
We entered the hotel and found the place. We saw Libyans in front of us, here in the US, thousands of miles away from home. They were smiling. They reached out and hugged us, they welcomed us inside. I found a man who was from Benghazi. I met Shahrazad Kablan, who inspired thousands of Libyan women during the revolution and who is still inspiring.
We headed towards the voting station, and there was our flag, hanging above the door. No words can describe how I felt when I saw it hanging there, the flag that thousands of martyrs died to protect.
I registered. I dipped my finger in the ink and cast my ballot. The man monitoring the ballot casting clapped.
What really distinguished the day, though, was the presence of our two mentors, Dan and David, and a group of our fellow students. They provided this moral support that was indescribably beautiful, and it made all the difference.
It’s pointless to continue trying to describe how I felt. Even now all I can recall is a blur of emotions; happiness, anxiety, grief. For that brief period, I was home again.