by Maria Liu



What’s your favourite color?


What’s your favourite ‘go-to’ recipe?

A classic cheese sandwich that people make in my hometown in Syria, Aleppo. Where they use a particular cheese from the city, dried mint, paprika, & olive oil.


What self-care habits do you intertwine into your daily routine?

I try to normalize small interactions that I feel anxious about, by trying to read the people around me, & their reactions. I also talk about these interactions to other people to get an outside perspective & eventually reach 'normalization'. 


What's your favourite book and what book had the largest impact on you?

One of my favourite books is The Stranger by Albert Camus. A vivid narrative tackling themes like existentialism & absurdism. One of the books that left a big impact on me must've been the short story Return to Haifa by Ghassan AlKanafani. The book shows how the struggle of Palestinians impacted their lives in such complex ways that left them kind of dumbfounded, or astonished. Just pure shock & helplessness. The magnitude of the Palestinian struggle has no tangible range in the impact that it really left me with.


Who can you talk to when you need to get something off your chest?

My closest friends & chosen family. 


Where’s your safe place?

Not necessarily anywhere in particular. Just somewhere with my dearest friends.


Have you ever dealt with anxiety? If so, what triggers it and how do you calm your mind?

I have dealt with anxiety & still do. Small interactions could trigger it, or big situations. Positions, where I feel helpless, are definitely the worst.  When I started reading about others' anxiety & got to know that a lot of my close friends have it, it became apparent that the feeling is not something I deal with alone. I started to tell myself whenever I felt it, that this is not it, & it's ok to feel this way & be better afterward. 


Have you or someone you love ever been in a dark place? If so, what were the steps taken to get out?

I think being there for one another has been the most helpful. The constant tendency to try to make my surroundings a better place for myself or others is the biggest barrier that separates from being in this dark place again. 


Do you think social media affects your mental health or has any other negative impacts on you? If so, how do you best deal with it?

Yes, certainly. I either stop using it for a few hours or try to seek any outlet that brings me back in control (reading, music, tidying up my room, etc..)


What’s the biggest change you can identify within yourself in the past year?

My acceptance to make mistakes & learn to not spiral into them. Learn from them; about myself & others. 


What changes do you want to see within yourself in the coming year?  

I want to be calmer.


What’s one of the hardest things you’ve had to go through in life? How did you get through it?

A death in the family with the realization that war & colonization have left people to live & die alone, scattered & far away from one another. Getting through it, is something that depends on a lot of factors that don't rely on myself alone.


What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Dress better & don't read books by ignorant authors like Harry Potter!


What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt?

To learn when to be objective & subjective about certain situations. 


If you could change one thing within society, what would that be? 

To eliminate the class system, which is the core of most issues.