Manual typewriter with succulents planted in it.
Manual typewriter with succulents planted in it.
Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the spring of 1998 — my senior year in high school. I had stayed a few minutes late after my first period class, Advanced Placement English, to ask my English teacher a question about an assignment. As I was gathering my stuff and getting ready to hurry to my second period class, my teacher casually told me, “You know you’re a good writer, right?”

My English teacher was notoriously difficult. And the class was ridiculously demanding. It was the sort of class where we’d read two books at the same time (and write about both) — one we’d discuss for a few weeks in class and one we’d read on our own and discuss together for only one class (and we were expected to turn in our writing assignment for that book before that class discussion). I couldn’t tell you what class I had for second period or the structure of the rest of my senior year classes. But the stresses and demands of AP English are forever burned into my brain. …

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Khallo Adel in Kuwait in 1980 or 1981 (screenshoted from one of his many family videos).

August 2nd marked the 30th anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The invasion uprooted my family’s life and changed the trajectory of my future. Like the nearly 400,000 Palestinians who lived in Kuwait at the time, we had a really good life in Kuwait. It was a life that was built around a large community of friends and family.

And the foundation of that community was my uncle Adel Samara. Khallo Adel passed away yesterday and with him a big part of that life left the world.

Khallo was an extraordinary man. He was so much more than an uncle to me — he was like a second father. The distance of diaspora meant that I didn’t have an adult relationship with him but so much of my childhood included spending time with him and his family. …


Noor Ali-Hasan

I’m a UX research lead at Google, where I help teams design and build desirable and easy to use products. Outside of work, I love art, Peloton, and Lego.

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