Wadad El Chamas – Lebanon

Wadad was born in Lebanon and lived in a suburb near Beirut before coming to America in December, 2008.  Many of Wadad’s family members, including her mother and father, arrived before her.  As she describes it, although her parents initially had some misgivings about being in America, they became quite comfortable living in this country. Wadad’s father and husband have passed away, and Wadad speaks of the comfort that comes from having very close relatives who live in the same neighborhood.

Speaking very fondly about the neighborhood where she lived in Lebanon, Wadad describes Christians and Muslims peacefully living together.  As friends, they would spend time together, sharing food, stories, and talking about their religious beliefs.

As a student in Lebanon, Wadad learned to speak three languages: French, Arabic, and English.  Since she lived in a Francophone area and attended a parochial school, the first language she learned was French.  She speaks and writes Arabic.  Wadad recently became a grandmother and looks forward to teaching her granddaughter the Arabic language.

When Wadad arrived in America, she wanted to improve her language skills and enrolled in classes at the English Center.  Her classmates described her as someone who works very hard to improve her grammar and vocabulary, always wanting to use new words in a sentence. During a birthday celebration for Wadad at the Center, her classmates bought her a t-shirt with writing that said “Queen of Vocabulary.”

Wadad maintains her home in Lebanon, and it is now occupied by one of her sons.  Wadad has other family in Lebanon and keeps in touch with them through Skype.  There are many things she misses about her country, particularly the beauty of the country and her relatives. She is looking forward to returning in 2012 for her son’s wedding. At the same time, however, she says that “everything is good here” and appreciates the education her sons have received in this country, one son who is now an engineer and one who is an honors student in high school.

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