Contemplations of Four Years [Archives:2001/27/Last Page]

July 2 2001

Karolina Romanska
“Well, this is it,” I thought to myself as my car took me further and further from my school on my last day in it. I will not see this place again. To think I have spent four years here, years that will not come back. I have gained knowledge beyond what I came to acquire. I have lost part of what I would call Innocence and four years of my youth. I am upon a stepping stone into the much more active part of being young. Yet, after I realize and acknowledge all that I still cannot shake off the feeling of calmness, or what one might say, indifference.
My parents came here to take office in the Embassy of Poland. I came here to be with them and join Sanaa International School. I never imagined what an adventure it would be to observe the life of Yemen and simultaneously acquire answers about it from competent sources attending the school with me. As a European, I was inclined to compare and contrast the Yemen Republic with the way of life I was more accustomed to. After four years of discussion, observation and listening I can rather accurately note that the Arab world of Yemen is similar to the world of Europe, despite the drastic opposites they sometimes seem to demonstrate. I have noticed that in Europe there is a battle raging to go forward and achieve more, sometimes at the expense of the past. In Yemen, there is a fight to remain true to old morals and ideals, sometimes at the expense of the future. There is no telling which is better or safer. It really depends on the way one was brought up to perceive things. I myself had to adjust and readjust my views towards people and events in Yemen many times.
Some of the greatest trials had me and my parents deeply involved. The most severe of them all was the incident of the Polish Ambassador’s kidnapping. I was under the impression that my parents had become machines as they practically moved heaven and earth in four days following the Ambassador’s disappearance. They seemed to be bent upon causing havoc if that was the only way the Ambassador was to be brought back safe and sound. The President, the Government, the Army, the Police, the Sheiks and anyone else, who had a say in the matters of security – all were alerted. Within four days the Ambassador was restored to safety. Through what little information I was allowed to learn, I witnessed the extreme firmness and decisiveness of the Yemeni people directly responsible for negotiations to secure the return of the Ambassador. I was pleased to find out my parents could work with such persons.
I cannot lie about the fact that I have been put to the limits of my patience many a time, however, when I would walk the street not bothering anyone and would hear insults hurled behind my back. It did annoy me when I had an appointment and the person I was waiting for would be an hour late or would not show up at all. However, my heart leaped for joy when I saw Yemenis acting to the contrary of what I would expect of them. The greatest and most praiseworthy of those acts was when my dog managed to leave the Embassy premises and was happily running toward a pack of wild dogs outside. I was sure nothing could bring him to answer my calls when I saw a Yemeni approach him, pick him up just like that and head for the Embassy gate. I could not believe my eyes! A Muslim carrying a canine just so he could hand him over to me was a sight I shall never forget. From that moment on I vowed not to judge anyone by the behavior of the general crowd.
So many things happened that made me spin with confusion until I concluded the obvious. Among the four years I had been given some of the most powerful guidances ever. One that especially motivates me to be calm and poised goes like this: “Remember, be happy and do whatever it takes to stay that way. Nothing else matters.” And that is so true! That piece of advice is what keeps me from losing my head over the next milestone in my life. Now I have a goal beyond any other and permission to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Wish me luck, Yemen!