I can’t believe that it’s been nearly a year and a half since one of the worst days of my life occurred in a London airport. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read my blog post “Detained in a London Airport”.
I think back on that day often, probably more often than I should, and I think about who I was at that time, a younger version of myself, naive to the events happening in our world.
After the Muslim Ban, I found myself in tears about what was happening to those people, and I realize that we can’t all wait for things like this to happen to ourselves or people we know in order to feel something, do something and make an impact.
Like I mentioned back in my “Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018” blog post, however bad things may have been for me in the past, I’ve met so many incredible people in my life that I’m learning the importance of compassion and how the human race isn’t set for doom but rather in many ways coming together in unity to stand up for human rights.
I finally went back to England on April 28th, 2017 and I remember walking towards the immigration officer as we got off the ship in Southampton, heart racing and scared. Months before this trip had begun, I was required to get a visa for clearance just to make sure I could enter the United Kingdom.
I remember walking up to the officer and thinking what if I don’t get in? What if it happens again? I had my passport, visa and papers all ready to be examined and the officer took once glance at me and my family’s passports, asked us how long we would be in the country, and stamped it all in a matter of two minutes. As I walked away from the officer, I let out a long breath I had been holding and I started to cry.
On that day, so many months ago, all I had wanted was that stamp, the approval that I could walk into their country with no fear, it hadn’t happened then but it was finally happening now. I suddenly let got the chance to let go of that fear that day but knew the fear would return one day.
A couple of weeks later, I was entering Ireland for the first time which was where I had been heading towards when I had gotten detained in London the year before. The Irish immigration officer asked me about the stamp with a cross on it and I panicked for a moment searching for answer to give him. What happened? I was wrongfully accused of wanting to stay in a country I would only be in for an hour and then a week. But I took a breath and said it was all a misunderstanding and they thought I would stay in England when I wasn’t. The officer just nodded, stamped my passport and let me go on my merry way.
I don’t know if officers will ever ask again or for how long this fear of airport security will last. But I was quickly finding out that I was coming to terms with it all and that the world was kind and not everyone would be so quick to come to conclusions as that London airport had been.
I also realized that I had become a stronger version of myself since that day in August and with every new airport and airport security, I was becoming stronger, less fearful and proud in the way that if it ever happened again, I could be sure that I wouldn’t be in the wrong and I could survive the full 24 hours in those cold white rooms again.
I’ve also come to be so extremely grateful for the person I was with in detainment and that he wasn’t some crazy old guy but a young person like myself and simply one of the nicest people I had ever met.
I also learned that life goes on and because of what had happened, I have this empathy and compassion for other humans who have gone through or are going through the same or worse things and with that all together I feel a deeper connection to those around me and the human race in general.
On August 10, 2016, a young American girl was detained in an airport for nearly 20 hours, but it wasn’t the end of her story, it was just the beginning.
Thank you for reading! Be sure to comment below and sign up for more blog posts coming soon!