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Reem Sleiman is a 12th grade student at CIS. Originally from Syria, she lived in Spain before joining CIS as a boarding student.
I remember writing one of my essays last year. It was about my first Thanksgiving dinner. I always used to see it in movies, where close friends and family would sit together and talk about what they are thankful for.

I never particularly wished to have one but, at CIS, I was interested in the idea of immersing myself in a different cultural environment to which I would have to adapt, rather than just exist in my upbringing.

Moving to CIS was my introduction to real immersion in culture, though not my first foreign cultural experience. I had lived in Spain, although I never accepted or internalized my experience, as moving to Spain was not my decision, nor was it my family's wish to be there. With Carlsbad, it was different. I wanted this and, thankfully, my wish was granted.

Receiving an education my parents and I only dreamed reminds me not take things for granted and appreciate what we have. Thanksgiving reminded me once again that I have been blessed.
I remember four years ago when it would rain only once in Madinah, KSA, and my parents and I would run outside to dance in the rain because we knew we would only see it once. I woke up yesterday to snow. Much like Thanksgiving, I only saw snow on TV. I saw snowflakes on my raincoat. Many things that I thought were too distant for me to ever experience have now arrived. I am sitting in a thanksgiving dinner with a school that became my home and peers that became family. I am studying a prestigious curriculum and getting closer to helping make my family happy by securing them out of the financial and political obstacles we have faced for so long. How can I not be thankful?

I would like to thank the counselors and teachers that have put their efforts to ensure that we do not stop here, but continue building our futures and especially for my case, for ensuring that my nationality and the struggles of my country do not influence my future and where I go after graduation.