Where I Live:

I grew up in the township of Denville, a town in New Jersey of around 17,000 with snowy winters (though less in recent years) and hot summers.

My house, where I have lived my entire life, and which my mom bought in 1998

I spent many summers as a child as a member of Rock Ridge, one Denville’s four residential lake communities .

New York City is around a 45 minute drive away, and many people in the area commute into the greater New York State daily, including my father, who works in Purchase, NY. Others commute into the many NYC suburbs on the Jersey side of the river, including my mom, who works in Newark, and me this summer, who worked in Lyndhurst.

I attended Morris Knolls High School, a regional high school in the nearby Rockaway . At Morris Knolls, a wide variety of programs and opportunities were available. New Jersey spends one of the highest amounts of money per pupil than any other U.S. state. I was able to take AP Tests, participate in theatre, and take specialized classes such as Creative Writing, Concert Band, Personal Law, and Animal Behavior.

The facade of my high school

The median household income in New Jersey is $89,703. Both my parents are in the workforce, and my mom has a graduate degree.



Where They Live:

How a Pipeline From Iran to Syria Could Bring Peace | Letter to Britain

Life in the Tigris/Euphrates Valley is different for a variety of reasons, but there are also general similarities. Iran and Turkey experience snow in the winters, but in Iraq it is quite rare. All three countries experience mild winters and very hot summers. Bodies of water are more scarce there than in my area of New Jersey, though it is not as scarce as many other states in Southwest Asia. Many Turks, Iranians, and Iraqis would not spend their summers swimming with their friends in nearby lakes.

World Water Day: Mapping water stress across the Middle East | Environment News | Al JazeeraThe region’s population has become increasingly urbanized, though outside of urban areas, there doesn’t exist much of a classic “suburbia” or greater metropolitan area such as in New Jersey.

Iraq has the lowest female literacy rate in the region, a large percentage of Iranian women attend university, despite the schools being segregated by sex, and in Turkey, many girls leave school between the ages of 6 and 14, though the literacy rate is above 99%. My counterpart in this region’s education would depend severely on where she lives. The opportunities presented to her, especially considering her sex, would likely be fewer.

30 Facts on the Education System of Islamic Republic of Iran | ACEI-Global

Iranian women posing with their degrees

The median household income is around 5,000 USD in Iran, 5,270 USD in Iraq, and 3,684 USD in Turkey. If my counterpart lived in one of these states, there would a moderate chance one or both of her parents would be unemployed, considering the high unemployment rates.

Despite these experiential differences between Americans and habitants of the Tigris/Euphrates Valley and Anatolia, I believe lives could play out similarly regardless of geographical location and all that comes with. There are factors beyond location and nationality that shape someone’s life.

Who knows, just might be someone in this region who thinks my thoughts and has lived a life scarily similar to my own.