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silver lining

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When I used to hear the term refugee I would conjure up images of third world countries-the impoverished, the AIDS stricken and the hungry. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the word refugee took on a new meaning for me. New Orleans natives who were displaced sought temporary residence in surrounding southern cities. Birmingham, Alabama was one of those cities. I remember when Simone walked into my seventh period Spanish class- a ninth grader with a shining face, exuding a cheerful disposition despite having endured the unimaginable. We cliqued immediately, sharing a passion for Greek food, indie music and volleyball. Suddenly, my problems seemed menial, completely trivial in comparison to the insurmountable tribulations of my new friend. I wondered how Simone woke up every morning, knowing her home had washed away in the wrath of Katrina’s flood waters. Unable to relate to her immense losses, I saw first-hand the pain and emptiness which ensued.
Surprised though I was, she found happiness in her daily life, and her smile brought others hope. Through her courage, perseverance and compassion, I learned to take life one day at a time, and to never underestimate the healing power of friends and family. Instead of letting troubling times take over and drown out her ambitions and aspirations, she grasped the opportunity to become a role model for the community she was involuntarily deposited. For Simone and her family, I am eternally indebted. Their strength and unequivocal faith in the face of disaster embodies a spirit that most envy.
When people discuss the events of August 29, 2005, I reflect on my friendship with Simone- the silver lining in the cloud that was born out of the tragedy and wreckage of hurricane Katrina.





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