A great escape

Junior ventures throughout countries located in the Eastern Mediterranean region alongside her family


Photo courtesy of Sarah Qaud

Sitting among the stairs at the infamous Roman Theatre in Jordan, junior Sarah Qaud journeys throughout the country to popular attractions such as this one. Taking a trip to visit her family living outside of the United States, Qaud spent 38 days outside of the country this summer. “The Roman Theater is mindblowing, and it was so interesting how Jordans would just sit and walk around it normally, whereas I was acting like a whole tourist,” Qaud said. “There are no words to describe how much I enjoyed it.”

Samantha Vojslavek, Features Editor

Traveling across the world to places she is always able to call home, junior Sarah Qaud spent 38 days traveling abroad this summer. From Palestine to Jordan (both located in Southwest Asia) Qaud navigated through these countries beside her sister and mother. Visiting her relatives, including several of her 70 cousins, Qaud was able to engage with family members she hadn’t seen since her previous visits to Palestine. 

With family being a big part of Arab culture, Qaud was thrilled to reunite with relatives during her 23 days spent in Palestine and absorb all of the cultural experiences. In Palestine, her mother’s home country, Qaud went to the cities of Bethlehem and Jericho for a couple of nights and explored restaurants in these towns. 

“I love the community in Palestine and Jordan, and I feel such a strong connection to the land there,” Sarah Qaud said. “This trip was an amazing way to see different perspectives and POVs, and it offers me insight that no news article can provide.” 

Additionally, Qaud spent a few weeks in Jordan, a country near Palestine where most of her father’s family is concentrated. Visits to the Old City offered several cultural stores which sold unique handmade souvenirs. These shops allowed Qaud to purchase items that will forever hold memories she created here. Other places such as The Boulevard and the Mecca Mall were common tourist attractions she went to with her family. 

“The best part about my trip was seeing family and my culture thriving,” Sarah Qaud said. “Palestinian culture is unique and indigenous to the land and despite the oppression Palestinians there have gone through, they are always so optimistic and proud of their heritage.”

Traveling to these Arabian countries established a language barrier between Qaud and her relatives. Surrounded by the Arabic language throughout her childhood, Qaud’s speaking skills have greatly progressed as she has aged, and this allowed her to grow closer with many of her cousins and older relatives. Qaud’s mother, Izdehar Qaud noticed these developments compared to their past trips to Palestine. Izedhar Qaud took advantage of this trip to further model her family’s culture and how it has shaped her life with hopes her children will appreciate their family’s origins. 

“I want her to be proud of her identity and be able to talk about it with her friends here in America,” Izedhar Qaud said. “This trip gave her a new perspective now that she is much older, and it’s up to her on how she uses what she learned in Palestine and Jordan.”

Sarah’s younger sister, freshman Leen Qaud, experienced these memorable journeys with her. With cousins their age, both sisters filled their evenings with outings to small convenience stores called dunkanas. Each night brought large dinner gatherings, which was a way their family welcomed them into town upon their arrival. 

“There is such a beautiful sense of unity in the community which is way different than how Americans are,” Leen Qaud said. “For example, if you go to small stores they are usually run by two owners, and they don’t have a bunch of employees like Walmart does. They act like you are family in Palestine, and you get to know everyone.”

After receiving her Palestinian ID, allowing her to reenter the country with ease, Sarah has high hopes for returning to her parents’ home countries. Whether it be a solo trip, or another shared one with her close family, Sarah will pack her bags again to return to these faraway countries she holds so close to her heart.