It meant that he made a sacrifice for us

Mariya Ilyas ():And so, um, when we moved to the States and all of that was taken away, that, you know, that, that, um, that, uh, model, um, and then my father, um, emphasized education, um, I, I knew that that meant f- what that meant for him. So at the time it was, you know, three, my three sisters and I, so four girls. And in patriarchal Pakistan, um, as you might know, it’s, um, it’s [inaudible ] to have a boy in the family. And so for my father, our only hope was education.

And so what appeared be an abandoned site, um, was actually home to a beautiful spiritual life

And when he, we, when we moved to the States, he gave up on his dream to pursue a PhD and to teach at a university and take up a job so that he could support us. And so he, um, every day when we, you know, we’re going to school, in elementary school, he would say online payday loans in IA that, you know, „I will always be the person that works in the family. You guys study. You know, if you need books, if you need supplies, I want to see you succeed.” And so, um, you know, the fact that he prioritized education in my life and that has opened up so many doors for me, that’s where I got convi- my conviction from; is, um, I can’t let him down.

I felt that this constant identity c- uh, conflict that I had carried with me or always do carry with me, um, was just, you know, it was as if somebody had, um, unlocked a cage in my soul and let it roam freely. I was so happy, um, you know, to be able to, um, connect with people through Turkish.()

And so he was an economics professor in Doha, Qatar

And when I think about also, you know, why I chose to pursue foreign, foreign service, I think about, um, that experience as well because the way you can connect with others, um, by speaking their language, um, is, uh, you know, breaking down barriers, um, that you, you know, otherwise may not be able to do.

While she had a number of experiences during her exchange that shaped her spiritually and professionally, perhaps the most notable one was Mariya’s encounter with the” Wishing Tree.” A tradition in Cappadocia, Turkey, the “Wishing Tree” offers visitors a chance to wrap a piece of cloth or fabric around the branch of a tree before making a wish.

just clothes of, of, of, uh, things written on them. And so I felt deja vu, uh, when I took this photo, uh, of this tree with white clothes wrapped around it, um, because I had seen a similar tree near a cemetery, uh, while growing up in, in Pakistan.

And so the clothes that were tied to this, um, I remember represented prayers and dreams of people from around the world, hoping to connect with a spiritual being through nature.

And I was so captivated, uh, by what I was seeing because next to the tree were these colorful pottery hanging by a dried up riverbed, there were two horses that were roaming in search for grass or water. And then there were these deserted caves that were longing for inhabitants. And yet there the s- stood this mighty tree reaching towards the clear blue sky as it’s branches so heavy, uh, with wishes and dreams. And I got to recreate this wish tree in graduate school at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where, um, the librarians helped me find a, you know, an, an, a small tree, um, and we invited students and faculty and staff members to come and write a wish or a hope or a dream on a piece of cloth and tie it to, uh, the tree.