In October 1988, I arrived from Lebanon and headed to New Brunswick, NJ. I was fascinated by the Halloween decorations and festivities. Soon after, I celebrated Thanksgiving Dinner – something completely new to me. Yet I loved it. I learned what the holiday was about, and I was grateful for being able to step foot in the land of opportunities and dreams. In 1995, my oldest son entered kindergarten. One day, parents were invited to eat lunch with their kids in the classroom. I packed lunch for the two of us, including the traditional pita bread, ham, and cheese wrap. At a table near us was a girl eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white toast. She looked at my son’s wrap and asked him: “What is this?” My son responded: “This is a sandwich.” The little girl said: “What? That’s not a sandwich.” My son put his sandwich down and stopped eating. I explained that we are not from New Jersey, that we come from another country and our bread is called Pita. I offered her a piece to try but she shook her head. After that day, Pita never left our house, which made me sad. I realized that I had to work hard to raise my child to learn both the Lebanese and the American cultures. In 2010, my son was asked to bring Hummus and Pita to the staff dinner at his new job because it was their favorite dish. We were proud to see that part of our culture recognized and loved.
– Violette Chamoun