Interview With My Grandfather Q: What is your name? A: Kamal Hamad Ismail El-Qoulaq Q: Where are you from? A: Western Palestine Q: Where do you live now? A: In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Q: When were you born? A: September 5th, 1926 Q: Where did you grow up? A: In Yaffa, a small village in what used to be Palestine, now an area in present-day Tel-Aviv Q: How many children do you have? A: I have eight children, thank God Q: How was life like in the 1930s and 1940s in the Middle East? A: It was very tough, everyone around us was in poverty. In the late 1940s, we were forced out of our homes in Palestine and driven to refugee camps Q: How was the health of your family? A: We were mostly healthy, thank God, but my son was crippled as a child and my wife has recently developed Alzheimers. Q: What kind of eating habits did you have when you were growing up? A: I ate whatever I could, but mostly the food my mother cooked was healthy, such as stuffed cabbage, rice, and grape leaves. Q: Was it easy to get regular exercise the way you grew up? A: Well I was always working, which was a good form of exercise, but I also played soccer in my free time
Q: What did you learn from the way you grew up? A: That I am very lucky to be alive and that I am very blessed right now to have a house and a wife and family Q: Do you miss home? A: Yes, very much. I was a big part of the community there, and I have many fond memories. But there is no way I can ever go back. Q: Why not? A: Because there is no way for me to get into what is now Israel as a native Palestinian. They would never grant me a visa Q: How did the stressful environment you lived in effect your character? A: The stress was very hard to deal with, but I learned to stay resilient and I always tried to stay humble. Q: How did your Islamic upbringing effect you? A: I always remember the presence of God in everything that I do. It helps to keep me kind and generous at all times. Q: Where does most of your family live? A: Mostly scattered around the Middle East. My wife and I live with my daughter and her husband, so I’m always close to my family. Q: Can you describe your current health? A: Thank God I am very healthy for an 83 year old man. I don’t have any major health issues Q: How do you exercise nowadays? A: I walk to the nearest mosque every morning at around 5 o’clock for prayer. I also walk there at noon, the afternoon, sunset, and at night at around 9. Q: How did you manage to stay so healthy for so long? A: I never drank alcohol or smoked anything, I think that’s the most important thing. Q: What kind of hobbies did you have as a child? A: I played soccer, and I always went around the town with my brothers finding ways to make money, and places to spend it on sweets Q: Did you have a good relationship with your brothers? A: Yes, of course. They were my best friends, we did everything together. When we were kicked out of our home, we always tried to stick together
Q: What was it like raising eight children? A: Very tough, but I loved it. I always wanted a lot of children in my house. Q: Was it tough supporting these children as a former refugee? A: Luckily I moved to Syria and got a job as a teacher, which helped me support my family. Q: How was life in Syria? A: Different than Palestine, but it was my home for a long time, and I grew to love it. Poverty was not as evident in Syria. Q: Do you plan on living the rest of your life in Riyadh? A: Yes, I am comfortable here, thank God.
My father came to America in 1981 as a student, coming from Germany after he had spent two years there studying. He went back to the Middle East in 1990 and met my mother, and she came back to San Diego with him where they got married. Ever since then, my mother’s relatives have been trying to come to America as well, and some have succeeded while others are still trying to get a visa. Coming to America
Family Health History I don’t have much of a health history in my family. For the most part, delicious, healthy Arab cooking has kept most of my family tree relatively healthy. My uncle had a problem with his leg when he was young and he used to ride in a wheelchair. Also, my grandmother recently developed Alzheimer’s. Also, my grandfather on my mother’s side had Diabetes and has very poor eyesight. Besides that, my family has stayed pretty healthy.
Fitness Data and Nutrition
Studying Per Night Day 1 (Monday): Two hours Day 2 (Tuesday): Four hours Day 3 (Wednesday): One hour Day 4 (Thursday): Two and a half hours Day 5 (Friday): None
Sleep Per Night Day 1 (Monday): Eight hours Day 2 (Tuesday): Five hours Day 3 (Wednesday): Nine hours Day 4 (Thursday): Seven hours Day 5 (Friday): Seven Hours
TV Watching Per Night Day 1 (Monday): Two hours Day 2 (Tuesday): One hour Day 3 (Wednesday): Three hours Day 4 (Thursday): Half an hour Day 5 (Friday): One hour
Computer Use Day 1 (Monday): Two hours Day 2 (Tuesday): Three hours Day 3 (Wednesday): Three hours Day 4 (Thursday): One hour Day 5 (Friday): One hour
Phone Use Day 1 (Monday): Ten minutes Day 2 (Tuesday): Five minutes Day 3 (Wednesday): Twenty-five minutes Day 4 (Thursday): Fifteen minutes Day 5 (Friday): Ten minutes
Totals Studying: Nine and a half hours per week Sleep: Thirty-six hours per week TV: Seven and a half hours per week Computer: Ten hours per week Phone: One hour and five minutes per week Overall Total: Sixty-four hours and five minutes per week
Social and Emotional Health
Hobbies/Talents/Sports Playing Sports Football, Basketball, Soccer, etc. Writing Film Making Film Editing Watching the San Diego Chargers play Listening to music
Travel Summer of 2008 To the Middle East Jordan, Palestine, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia With my mother and three siblings Palestine with my father and two brothers
Closest Friends Bader Abdulkader Sabahudin Redzepovic Yasser Kaziha Ramiz Islamovic Ahmad Ouro’Okando Andrew Nguyen Ricky Lee Mekyas Moges
Schools Attended Kindergarten: Islamic School of San Diego First-Fifth Grade: Rolling Hills Elementary School Sixth-Eighth Grade: Black Mountain Middle School Ninth-Eleventh Grade: Westview High School
Clubs AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) I would like to join: Muslim Student Association Interact Club Associated Student Body
Health Triangle PHYSICAL SOCIAL 96 88 91 MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL
I am a very active person physically; I try to involve myself in physical activity as much as possible. Sports are a huge part of my life and I enjoy myself playing them, especially the tiring ones like basketball, football, and soccer. I also consider myself mentally adequate, and I believe that education should be a top priority for anyone who plans on succeeding in life. I always try to stay well-versed in current events around the world. Socially, I have a tight group of friends that I don’t venture out of as much as I should, but I love meeting new people and I’m fairly outgoing.
1994, Mosque gathering in San Diego
1996, On the way to Disneyland in Anaheim
2004, In front of my house on the way to a holiday celebration
2007, in Saudi Arabia visiting my uncle’s chocolate factory
2008, in Jerusalem visiting my homeland
2010, in Alpine after a paintball tournament
Greatest Personal Achievement My greatest personal achievement would have to be getting an A in AP English. It was the most challenging class I have ever taken, but I told myself I would do whatever it took to get an A and I did it. I am very proud of this achievement and it was very important to me because it showed me what I’m best at: writing. It also showed me that I can do whatever I set my mind to as long as I’m willing to work hard.
Happiest Moment My happiest moments would probably be the days my little brother and sister were born. They have meant so much to me since they joined the family and my older brother and I were getting pretty bored with just the two of us. It’s always a huge deal when there’s a new addition to the family, and this was special because I have always wanted to be someone’s big brother.
Family’s Greatest Achievement My family’s greatest achievement would be making it to America and establishing a steady lifestyle. When my father first came to America, he was struggling to pay for college and provide for himself. When I was young, we didn’t live in a very good part of San Diego, and money was hard to come by. But my father worked hard and we were eventually able to establish a life in Penasquitos.
What I Can Do Better I always try to help my mother around the house, but I don’t think I do enough. I know it’s very stressful to have four kids, and for about four years she was a single mother because my dad found work in Iraq, and I should really make an effort to help her out when she needs things. Sometimes, she asks me to drive my siblings to places and I always try to make an excuse, when really I’m just too lazy. I should try harder to make things less stressful for her.
One Year To Live If I had one year to live with guaranteed success, I would probably be a daredevil, or an extreme athlete. I always watch TV shows like Nitro Circus where the people in the show do crazy things like jumping into the Grand Canyon or swimming with sharks, and I know I would never have the courage to do that. I know however if I did have the courage, I would have the most exhilarating experiences of my life.
Three Words to Describe Me Kind Funny Motivated
Full Given Name Omar Kamal Taisir El-Qoulaq
Song That Represents Me Daydreamin’ By Lupe Fiasco Lyrics: [Chorus] Daydream I fell asleep beneath the flowers For a couple of hours On a beautiful day Daydream I dream of you amid the flowers For a couple of hours Such a beautiful day
Lyrics (Continued) [Lupe Fiasco]As I spy from behind my giant robot's eyesI keep him happy 'cause I might fall out if he criesScared of heights so I might pass out if he fliesKeep him on autopilot 'cause I can't driveRoom enough for one I tell my homies they can't rideUnless they sitting on the shoulders but that's way too highLet's try not to step on the childrenThe news cameras filmingThis walking project buildingNow there's hoes selling hoes like right around the toesAnd the crack heads beg at about the lower legThere's crooked police that's stationed at the kneesAnd they do drive-bys like up and down the thighsAnd there's a car chase going on at the waistKeep a vest on my chestI'm sitting in my room as I'm looking out the faceSomething to write aboutI still got some damage from fighting the Whitehouse, just a
Lyrics (Continued) [Chorus] [Lupe Fiasco]Now come on everybody, let's make cocaine coolWe need a few more half naked women up in the poolAnd hold this MAC-10 that's all covered in jewelsAnd can you please put your titties closer to the 22s?And where's the champagne? We need champagneNow look as hard as you can with this blunt in your handAnd now hold up your chain slow motion through the flamesNow cue the smoke machines and the simulated rainBut not too loud 'cause the baby's sleepingI wonder if it knows what the world is keepingUp both sleeves while he lay there dreamingMe and my robot tip-toe 'round creepingI had to turn my back on what got you paidI couldn't see half the hood on me like Abu GhraibBut I'd like to thank the streets that drove me crazyAnd all the televisions out there that raised me, I was [Chorus]
Explanation This song represents me simply because it exemplifies through genius metaphors and wordplay what I believe is wrong with society. I am strongly opposed to the music video culture in our music industry, and how we degrade women so openly with the response of profit. It also represents what I want to become, not a rapper, but someone who will one day have enough fame to influence society positively through spoken word, in the way that this song is doing.
One person that has made a positive impact on my life is my father. He has always taught me to prioritize my life in the way that will benefit me the most in the long run, and not in the way that is dictated by those around me. He also taught me the importance of family, by putting his life at risk to go work in Iraq for four years when we were struggling to make ends meet. I always have appreciated my dad for that; he always put us first and never thought about himself before others.
Dear Dad I am forever grateful for all the sacrifices you have made for our family. You have always taught me the importance of selflessness and individuality, and you have definitely made me a better person. When I was struggling with my grades, you pushed me to take advantage of my potential and helped me understand the importance of my education. I feel lucky to have a father like you who cares so much for my well-being, when there are so many fathers out there that don’t even bother to meet their sons. Thank you for having such a positive impact on my life. Sincerely, Omar
Where I See Myself in the Future In three years: I hope to be studying at UC San Diego for some sort of technology or engineering degree. I hopefully will have some sort of job, like a waiter, that will help me pay for college In five years: I see myself a graduate of UCSD, on my way to graduate school so that I can obtain a Master’s Degree in the subject I will have a Bachelor’s Degree in. In ten years: I hope to be starting a family by this time, living in San Diego close to my parents and siblings who will all have their own lives by then. Hopefully I will be blessed with a wife and a house full of children, with a steady career in technology or engineering.
Life Accomplishment If I could accomplish one thing in life, I would want to raise a son or daughter that is talented enough to go to Harvard or some other Ivy league school. I know that it’s too late for me to have aspirations like that, but I want my kids to have the option to do anything they want in life, so that they can live comfortable lives and raise grandchildren for me.
The media effects pretty much everything around us. I myself try very hard to not be effected by the media, because I believe there is nothing to benefit from it. Most of the time the media tells us to dress a certain way that doesn’t suit our personality, so I try to steer clear of that. Obviously the media has had some great effects recently, by broadcasting national disasters as they happen. Technology in the media has helped us in many ways. But I believe ultimately that the best thing to do is to stay away from the influences of the media as much as possible.