She stands before them with poise and confidence. Her entire body is covered, leaving only her face and hands exposed—but she does not hide beneath her headscarf. She wears it proudly.
She eagerly approaches the tent of fifty tired American teenagers, fifty strangers, to share her life with them—not in her first language, or her second, or even her third. She eloquently articulates with few mistakes in English, her fourth language.
I was one of those lucky teenagers who heard Mariam’s story that day, and it is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
In such Bedouin communities it is tradition for women to be married off in their teenage years. Thus, at a young age, Mariam discovered she wasn’t the woman her society was telling her to be. She wasn’t one to marry a stranger and assume the role of a housewife. She had a dream, and wasn’t going to let tradition limit it.
Intentionally or not, Mariam is leading a progressive moment in a society that is rooted so deeply in tradition.