Lina Abu Taweeleh

At Both Ends

Project Description

I grew up in a family whose spoken language is a combination of what is spoken in Jordan and Syria. There are small variations between these dialects but not enough to prevent communication. Many in the Middle East use both colloquial and classical Arabic, a common practice that neither prohibits naturalness nor ease of expression. The two languages are permeable to each other, each flowing in and out of one another as an essential part of what breathing in Arabic means. When I was very young, I learned to speak colloquial Arabic and English and was always able to switch in and out of both, but like many who immigrate at a young age, my classical Arabic was left behind. Because Arabic and English are such different languages in the way they function, a perfect bilingualism of the kind I dream about is unattainable. How can I live in two languages from two different worlds at once? Likewise, how can I belong to different cultures seemingly far removed in space and time?

In my poetry, I explore the nuances of bilingualism and multicultural identity through telling the stories of those who leave their homelands to start a new life. These poems straddle two worlds to find truth in experience. They witness border crossings, new beginnings, memory, language, and community.

About the Artist

Lina draws inspiration from science and the natural world to write poetry and short stories. She hopes to give voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and belonging. At Stanford, Lina majors in Human Biology, with a concentration in Global Health and Epidemiology. Broadly, she is interested in examining the consequences of conflict, dislocation, and political instability on health outcomes.

Thank you to Andrew Todhunter, Sue McConnell, the TSR family, and Sarah Michas-Matin and ENGLISH 9CI. I am very grateful for your support and encouragement.