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An Experience In Yemen

I guess you can say I am a new Foreign Service participant. Our first post was in Sanaa, Yemen--my parents, my two sisters, and I. If you have been there, you can imagine how it was for a first-timer. We were sent there 2 years ago. At first, it was really bad--trash, homeless people, heat, and dirt. Then I started school in S.I.S. (Sanaa International School) with about 200-300 other kids in a K-12 setting. There I met the most beautiful people! When I first began, I thought it was going to be intolerable. But I finally got to know the school, teachers, and other kids. Within a month I knew everyone. It was awesome!

There were parties every Wednesday. We went out to eat, had get-togethers, or just hung out. To anyone in the States it would be considered boring, but with the right people it could be fun. It was!

I had grown to love the people, the school, and Yemen. Coming from me, that sounds unusual, because I am an outgoing, wild gangster-rap-loving teenager. What can I say? I loved Yemen!

On May 4, 1994, I was hanging out with my friends, and the power faded out twice. We didn't know what was happening but took it like anything else. We said good-bye, and that basically was the last time any of us saw each other. The civil war between North and South Yemen began at 5:00 a.m. May 5, 1994. A scud missile flew over our house trying to take out northern President Ali Abdula Saleh. That's when it all began. From then on we were sheltered in our basement for 2 days with bombing and shooting going nonstop. No electricity, no water, no phone, nothing. Our friend Caroline was over which made it worse because, of course, her parents were terribly worried.

Finally, we were taken to the Sheraton Hotel and stayed there with other Americans. We had gotten in touch with friends, which made things seem better. The next day, at 1:00 p.m., our school buses came and took all the Americans to the airport. Everyone was terrified. Four military aircrafts had flown in, and they took us to Saudi Arabia. Our flight went from Sanaa to Taif to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Maine to New York to Washington, DC.

We were home, with one exception. My dad was still in Yemen. He flew out a couple of days later and everything was fine. We were all home! It's been about 3 months since my family and I went through this. We have a new house, a new car, and a new dog. Everything is new!

The only problem I am facing now is that all my friends that I made are now all around the world. They all went to their homes. My sisters and I are in touch with most of them, but it's not the same. We will probably never see these people again.

Now we are staying in the United States for a year; then we're going to Honduras, Central America for 2 years, where I will graduate. I'm not really worried because I  lived in Yemen for 2 years, so I'm kind of looking forward to it. I just wish Yemen didn't have to end the way it did. The war is over now, but I still remember it as if it were yesterday. I flinch when a loud noise is made, remembering the bombs and the shooting. I wish things could be different, but I just think about all the positive things that happened there. All in all, it was great!

Being in the Foreign Service is a good thing--new experiences and cultures. You mature a lot faster and your outlook expands. I never thought we would be in the Foreign Service, but now I'm glad we are. It gives me a new attitude about life. I am greatly looking forward to Honduras!


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