Lima Al-Azzeh

National Pride

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2010 at 9:46 pm

As the USA men’s hockey team scored their second goal in the final 30 seconds of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Gold Medal hockey game, tying up the score, my stomach lurched and my vision began to mist behind a faint cloud of oncoming tears.

I’ve watched numerous hockey games, I’ve reveled and enjoyed them. I’ve been mind-numbingly drunk at them, I’ve screamed profanities even a sailor would blush at, but the one thing I’ve never well and truly done at a hockey game is cry.

Slightly mortified, at the game, at myself, I took a few minutes to reassess as the ice was resurfaced in preparation for the most intense overtime period a hockey game has seen in the history of the sport thus far.

I believe the feeling swelling in my chest and exiting through my eye sockets was akin to something commonly known as “National Pride”. As a Palestinian girl, born in Kuwait, raised in Abu-Dhabi, then unceremoniously moved to Canada, I can’t say that I’ve truly experienced national pride as I did yesterday afternoon.

My sense of national pride has always been slightly disjointed, even contentious. The Middle East isn’t exactly the most docile corner of the world and leaves much to be defended in conversations and debates. I’ve always marveled at what to say when asked the simple question “Where do you come from?”. The truth is, it’s everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

My family pledges allegiance to a country that no longer exists on a map, but exists in the hearts and minds of thousands of citizens. Refugees in their own homeland. For generations we were born in a place that barely recognized us as citizens. Where a birth certificate only proved that we were only physically born there. Abu-Dhabi was the closest we collectively felt to being a part of a nation, moving away from merely existing as foreign transplants in places that really should have felt like home all along.

Moving to Canada was an altogether out-of-body experience. It wasn’t so much “moving” as “fleeing”. At least for me, I can safely say I felt most comfortable here from the get go. Despite difficulties relating to just about anyone else around me, in my heart, I felt like I could call this place home, I just needed to practice. Fast-forward 14 years, I’m sitting at my friend’s office in Gastown, watching this epic battle ensue, screaming our throats out of functioning, and I’m surrounded by a group of people I don’t know. Some are “originally” Phillipino, some are “originally” Japanese, some are “originally” British, myself “originally” Palestinian, but all of us Canadian.

The game returns, we’ve all abandoned our comfortable seats in favor of standing in anticipation. We watch near hits and grateful misses. We yell “Lou” and “Boo” and everything in between. And in a single, fateful moment, a young determined man named Sidney Crosby drives the puck into the net and gives us all what we’ve been waiting for.

I’m not exactly clear on what happened after that. I know there was a lot of yelling, I jumped up and down like a kid on their first trampoline, I unashamedly high-fived everyone in sight. There was some hugging, and at last, even a little crying.

I think that, in the end, it’s this part of the “cultural mosaic” that’s the most appealing. That this country of ours, aside from its reputation for being the most polite, also offers the most simple, uncontroversial reason to exhibit a great sense of national pride. As simple as a young, hardworking man, a part of a very hardworking team, driving one itty-bitty puck into a big net.

It’s a national pride that’s easy to be a part of, easy to defend, and easy to be proud of. It’s a national pride that’s far from a boisterous and unabashed patriotism. It’s uncontroversial and unmistakable.

So it may have taken three moves, and 14 years, but I think my practice has paid off. I finally know what it’s like to feel an upswell of pride, and moreover of collective relief. In this moment, I can safely and proudly assert, with full conviction, that I am Canadian. For that, I am not sorry.

Go Canada Go.

  1. Lima, on my day that I was sworn-in as a Canadian. I told my friends: from my prespetive, to be a true Candaidan; one must go and watch a live hocky game, drink beer from a bottle and have a one night stand…
    So, for me.. two out of three ain’t bad, ehh?
    They asked: which two?
    I answed: I will never tell..

  2. […] up in all that hullabaloo, I only managed to post two blogs about the Olympics (one of them actually was a post about post-Olympics Vancouver). To this day, I regret my posting […]

  3. […] more so than a physical place, although it helps to tap into that feeling when you’re celebrating where you are and the moment you’re […]

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