Summer, 2000. The future did not seem bright. No thought was wasted on what I should study in the future, because back then I could never have imagined that I would study at all. I hardly managed to pass the 7th grade. And passing the 8th grade seemed nearly impossible to me. Even the teachers seemed sure that I would not pass. But one phone call, or to be more precise, one sentence changed everything. "If you somehow manage to pass the 8th grade, I will book a ticket for you to New York", my father said on the phone. What had been a childish dream for years, was now in reach. All I needed was an A grade in English and at least a D grade in French in order to pass. 3 weeks later we received the results of the exams. An A grade in English and a D in French. For the first time I felt that if you really want something, you can achieve it.
One of the most memorable moments was the day when my uncle took me to that special place. Those two huge twin towers, standing on top of the tallest structures in the world at that time, on top of the World Trade Center. Ten years later I would return to that place that was now known as Ground Zero. Less than a half years later the tragedy would happen that has implicated a series of devastating wars and change the perception of the muslim world in the West dramatically. One of my best friends called me and I woke up. "Switch on the TV", he said. It almost felt like I must be watching a movie. As I see one of the Twin Towers burning and a plae crashing into the second one.
A lot had changed until then. The perception of the Muslim world in the West changed dramatically. Over a million muslims lost their lives as a result of warfare in the years that followed. Meanwhile I studied American Studies, and it was during the final phase of my studies when I initiated the Around the World trip, with NYC being the first stop.