Goodbye, Gadhafi: A Dream Made Into Reality

Oct 20, 2011

Sarah Burshan is a student at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Thursday, Oct. 20 is a day I will never forget.

My brother woke me up at 5 a.m. He kept repeating, "They got him, they caught Gadhafi!" I was so dazed, I didn't believe it. A world without Moammar Gadhafi? It seemed too good to be true.

I was born in Kansas, but I have always been a Libyan. Before I was born, my parents were active in the opposition. When my father finished high school, he knew that the only options for those opposed to Gadhafi were jail or death. He chose instead to leave the country.

After he left, he and my mom were married. It was a big wedding, and all their friends and relatives attended. The only person missing was the groom — the wedding was in Libya.

This morning, my whole family was speechless. I called my father, who was so excited he couldn't think of anything to say to me. Later, he was interviewed on Al-Jazeera. "Do you feel like you're dreaming?" they asked. "It's too good to be a dream," he replied.

This has been a long process. We were hopeful when the protests began. My mom began to shop for furniture. I told her this was no time to redo our house. But she told me, "These things are for our home in Libya."

We called my relatives in Libya. My uncle cried on the phone: "You can come home, you can come home!" He doesn't know his nieces and nephews. He doesn't know his own siblings. They have lived in a different world for over 20 years.

But then, things turned violent. We began to hear reports of Gadhafi's crimes against the Libyan people. Our hope began to fade. Then reports that Gadhafi's sons had been caught turned out to be false. Each time we got bad news, we felt that our hope of a free Libya were getting further away.

So when I called my grandmother in Libya today, she was crying — but this time with happiness.

I'm taking a year off from school this year to help out and volunteer in Libya. A year ago, moving home would have seemed crazy. Who would want to live in a country run by a dictator, where the youth have no dreams?

But today, it doesn't seem ridiculous. In fact, it's just starting to seem possible.

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