Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

There was one playground not too far from my grandparents' apartment in Cairo (the summer home of my childhood) where I wasn't treated like the quirky, abnormal kid that I was used to being. It wasn't your ideal picture of a playground, though. Rusty railings, monkey bars so high you'd break a bone if you fell, sharp nails everywhere that would've whispered the word "tetanus" in my mother's ear had she ever accompanied me and my cousin. It was every child's dream and every parent's nightmare, and I got to enjoy it. The kids there didn't care that I couldn't speak Arabic or that I was a Christian (and not even a Coptic but a Presbyterian -- a minority of the minority). We'd play hide-and-seek, tag, cops-and-robbers, you name it. When we'd finished, we would sit together and giggle because we were all Egyptians and there was nothing to keep us from being happy.

At the playground in Cairo I could be something I had no chance of being in Memphis: normal.

Cairo was quite a sight in its glory days, once heralded as the most beautiful city in the world. It was filled with villas and clean roads and marketplaces that brought tourists from all over to behold the city's majesty. However, through horrible governing and overpopulation,...

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