Growing up, I had always felt an emptiness deep down in my heart, a constant feeling that something was missing and I never knew what it was. I had always dreamed of the place I call home, a place not only where I am a citizen, but also a country that has shaped my heritage and background, which effects who I am as a person. This place is the beautiful country of Lebanon. As a child, I was mesmerized by the stories my father would tell me of his childhood, growing up in the capital city of Beirut. It was filled with hot summers, exasperating white winters, exciting school days, and rewarding holidays. He would tell me stories of my grandfather, a tall, vibrant man who was known throughout Beirut for his expertise in majestic Arabian horses and his ownership of two newspaper companies. I had never met him for he passed away long before I was even born, but my father would tell me how he would have spoiled his granddaughters had he still been alive. I had seen photographs, read books, watched Arabic films, and used my wild imagination to create an image of what Lebanon was all about. Even with my big imagination, where everything was allowed to be all I had dreamed of, it was not close to being juxtaposed to my real homeland. In the winter of 2004, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime, one that I thought would never be available, to take the nearly ten thousand mile journey to the land of my ancestors. Although we were only there for a total of four days, it was an opportunity worthwhile, not only for me, but for my whole family. It exposed me to a whole new world and way of living. I met family members I had never even heard of before, and eaten foods I didn't know was edible. In 2009, my family and I returned to Lebanon for the second time, having even more fun than the first, exploring more of its breathtaking cities and historical landmarks, riding camels and donkeys along the way. The people of Lebanon not only are kind-hearted and personable, but they welcome and respect you as if you have known them since childhood. My experience in Lebanon was one like no other: it was everything I had imagined it to be and so much more. My dreams had come true, the knots which tied down my happiness swiftly unraveled, and the empty hole I once felt in my heart, has filled in. I feel complete.
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