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November 14, 2007 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-14

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I 12B The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Saying goodbye to Baghdad

chool was out was save my grandmother's bou-
For me, a fifth grader, it tique. She owned a small women's
was heaven on earth. No clothing store about five minutes
homework for at least a month, no from where we lived. The last time
more mean math teacher, no more we were involved in a war, people
science papers. The fewv unexpect- from other towns raided every
ed days off school were a much- store and took everything they
needed vacation. could get their hands on.
What was unneeded was the rea- That day, my mother, grand-
son for the break- school was out mother and I waited for the bomb-
because we were being bombed. ing to stop for a few hours, then
It was 1998, and then-President hurried over and stuffed all the
Bill Clinton had ordered fighter clothes into bags. We moved fast,
jets to attack several targets in the and within an hour the store was
heart of Baghdad. Six years later empty. When I walked outside, I
I would come to the University saw everyone else doing the same
of Michigan at Dearborn to study thing.
political science, but at the time, At the time, I accepted it, but it
the geopolitical climate I'm study- didn't seem like the right thing to
ing here meant very little to me. I do. I remember wondering, why
was more worried about looting be so scared? People are generally
and shrapnel. . nice, so why would they want to
In Baghdad, I lived down the take something that doesn't belong
street from at least four potential to them? I didn't ask my mother,
targets. We considered boarding though. It wasn't the time.
all the windows of the house, but If I was naive then, I'm far from
for the most part they were too big it now. I'm older and wiser, but,
to make the effort worthwhile. The more important, at the University,
most important thing we could do I'm removed from the war. Here,

fears about looting are far removed
from the collective consciousness.
And while the streets in Dearborn
aren't exactly paved with gold, it's
closer to a land of milk and honey
than Baghdad. Still, I sometimes
feel out of place. While a lot of peo-
ple are concerned about the war in
Iraq, I'm probably one of the few
for whom poor U.S.-Iraqi relations
means it's time to board up win-,
dows.
Going home that night was
boring. I wanted to ride my bike
with my friends. I asked my mom
if I could ride my bike over to my
friend's house and she said no. I
didn't know why everything was so
quiet. There weren't even any cars
on the road, but my mom insist-
ed I didn't go outside. I couldn't
watch television - nothing was
on. I guessed they had bombed the
broadcasting towers. We sat in the
silence.
I can sleep through anything,
and that night I didn't have a
problem getting to sleep. But
the sirens that went off nonstop

and the occasional explosion
kept my little sister awake. My
grandmother slept beside her,
and whenever my sister woke
up, my grandma turned the radio
on really loud so my sister could
forget about the noise outside.
Eventually, my grandmother fig-
ured out a place for us to stay in a
nearby city that wasn't bombed as
often as Baghdad. We packed up
enough clothes to keep us away
from home for a couple days and
went to stay with the daughter of
our neighbor. We spent about a
week sleeping in her living room.
She was extremely nice to us,
and we felt more or less at home
on the tiled floor, but I remember
the darkness. The power outage
seemed permanent, and it was
inky black and quiet.
Now, nine years later, I can't
help but think back to those days.
Of course, my life couldn't be more
different. Nightlife at the Univer-
sity is the antithesis of nights in
wartime Iraq. But I think about my
father's family, who are still there,

every time I see statistics about the
skyrocketing casualties in Iraq.
And, of course, I think about how it
might have been different had my
family stayed longer - the num-
ber of refugees and immigrants
allowed into the United States
dropped dramatically after Sept.
11, 2001, despite the accelerating
violence.
I was recently at Cedar Point,
standing in line for the Sky Hawk.
I glanced at the girl standing
next to me, laughing and having
fun just as I was. I kept think-
ing, You know, we're at war right
now. Shouldn't I be home boarding
up my windows? Shouldn't I box
up everythingI own in case I have
to leave my house? More or less,
though, I've come to the realiza-
tion that I no longer need to worry
about these things, because I'm
safe. If only all of us could say the
same.
- Shahad Aitya is a
sophomore at the University
of Michigan at Dearborn.

BIKES
From page 10B
reason: "no one on a bike wants to
get hit by a car."
"Actually, bad cycling doesn't
happen on the roads that often,"

Chen said. "In an accident, it's fairly
obvious which party will lose."
Kronenberg agreed and said that
for an auto driver involved in a close
call with a bicycle, it's merely a near
miss and there are few to no conse-
quences the driver will face. But for
the cyclist, "It leaves them trauma-
i'st
''0lE S AS!

tized." and cyclists who do not obey traffi
According to Hieftje, one of the laws," he said in the e-mail. "Lik
biggest barriers is the lack of educa- others who ride here, I have had t
tion motorists and bicyclists have jump off my bike and over curbs.
about road etiquette. Kronenberg is no stranger to clos
"I am a regular cyclist myself, calls with cars on his bike. He sai
and I believe the biggest prob- he hasn't had an actual collision i
lem we have is motorists quite a while, but he once collide
i-aA

i with a car and was flipped over the
e hood.
o "(The driver) got out and said,
" 'Lucky for you, you didn't wreck my
e car,' and they drove off," Kronen-
d berg said.
n Kronenberg has made it his per-
d sonal goal to change these kinds of
driver attitudes about bicyclists.
"The lanes themselves and all
this infrastructure isn't going to
have an appreciable difference for
the safety of cyclists until the cul-
ture changes," he said. "Culture
comes about through education,
and education is what we do in Ann
Arbor."
Hieftje said education is difficult
because almost half of the drivers
in Ann Arbor at any given time are
from somewhere else, and it would
take time to change driver behav-
ior.
To help with this, he plans to
oversee the installation of more
instructional signs.
"We're putting 'Share the Road'
signs all over the road," Hieftje
said, referring to the mantra he said
everyone needs to embrace.
"I often tell motorists who com-
plain to me about cyclists that they
sbould welcome cyclists," be said.
"It saves them a parking place,
reduces congestion and keeps our
air cleaner."

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