Haneen Hussam Zaqqout

When asked to describe my personality in one paragraph, I'd rather solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded than write a page rambling about myself. But here goes: When I Google my name, I find great public figures who share this with me. I do envision myself being one of those great role models who has brought good change to the world.  While the name is very common in Gaza, I'd like others to see how unique I am, and how proud I am to embrace my quirkiness.  And now, joining We Are Not Numbers gave my words a purpose that is bigger than who I am.

I am that nerd in the classroom who looks rude and serious, but once you get to know me, you’ll discover I am as fun and weird as Jim Carrie but not as hilarious. I am grateful for my 19 years of striving, living, growing, losing, gaining and battling depression, but still haven’t let go of my happy-go-lucky inner child, including my love of coloring and painting. I like winter, even though my feet are always cold, I get excited about traveling, but get homesick quickly (in fact, that is what Haneen means in Arabic) and I try to reach for the stars; I literally daydream of becoming an astrophysicist.

My struggle to overcome my cultural shock when I moved to Gaza from Pakistan at age 12 has shaped who I am today. the gap between familiarity and unfamiliarity has helped me grown a lot in maturity and personality!

I am a mixture of the resilience that flows in the veins of my father and the elegance in the folds of my mother's red sari. I am a painting that reminds you of someone familiar but every time you look, it's different.