Luma Mufleh was born in Amman, Jordan, and is now the founder of Fugees Family, an organization that provides education, community, and sportsmanship to refugee immigrants. There are schools now in Ohio and Georgia. Luma Mufleh is best known for her TED Talk on educational justice and it has been viewed more than 1.8 million times. She recently published her memoir called From Here. From Here showcases her experience growing up in Jordan in the 1980s and how she learned to accept herself through sacrifices and family hardships.
The Plot of From Here
Luma knew at a young age that she was different than other girls. She just wasn’t attracted to young men and didn’t know the word “gay” at the time. But she knew in her heart that she must keep it a secret. Growing up in Jordan in the 1980s, it was clear that the end game would lead to her family disowning her. She was trapped in a conservative religious society that could’ve killed her if anyone had discovered her sexuality. Luma spent her teen years trying to find a way out. Going to the United States for her education was the opportunity she needed to apply for political asylum. Luma had to rely on friends and strangers to build a life for herself. This memoir is hopeful, heartbreaking, and powerful. An emotional journey of being prideful of her culture yet not welcomed was a mental struggle for Luma, and she soon triumphed, with hurdles along the way.
My Thoughts After Reading From Here
I enjoyed the layout. The first chapter introduces Luma Mufleh’s current life. Luma is Syrian/Arabic and she married Emily, who is Jewish. She has a daughter named Leila and two other children. Luma hasn’t talked to her father in seven years, and her Mom just casually talks about the weather once in a while on a phone call. Immediately before we view Luma’s entire life story, she wonders how she is going to tell her daughter how she got here and why her grandfather doesn’t talk much to Luma.
Starting from the beginning, Luma grew up in Amman, Jordan, with advantages that she wasn’t truly aware of until she got older. As she grows up she finds passion in sports and receives a great education at the best schools that infuse Western culture. Around fifth grade, she discovered her first crush was a girl. Even though she couldn’t identify her sexuality at the time, she knew she had to keep it a secret.
In addition to learning more about her sexuality and how it conflicts with her religious beliefs, she becomes self-aware of how the women of her beloved Jordan are treated. She witnessed it through her grandmother, mother, and aunt. When college became an opportunity, at this point, she was fearful for her life. She can’t be what her parents want her to be and with secret experiences, she realizes that she must leave. The turmoil and heartbreak of having to make that choice was hard to read. Sometimes the right choices for your happiness will hurt you.
When she reached the United States, she needed to find her sense of belonging. A place where she could still support religion and be herself did not exist in the United States or Jordan. At the time, she was facing her mental demons and trying to cope with leaving her family behind. Even though she had friends and allies at her side it was a difficult transition, from denial to begrudging acceptance. When she began to seek asylum in the United States I can feel the tension and guilt of the chapters, having to deceive your family to live a fulfilling life.
I have to say, all the heartache and difficult decisions have led to her finding a true path to success without parental expectations. The roads were bumpy yet she found her people and made her own family. This memoir masterfully captures the meaning of family and self-discovery.
From Here will be released on May 16, 2023. If you want to read more of Luma Mufleh’s work, try reading Learning America: One Woman’s Fight for Educational Justice for Refugee Children and Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from an Atlanta High School. Preorder From Here on Penguin Random House.