46 | SAIS Magazine Winter 2018 G rowing up in the United States, I felt a disconnect from Lebanon, the country of my grandparents. Art became my bridge. I began painting in colors evoked by the Mediterra- nean, a place I had never visited but which was etched in my memory by the stories passed down by my family. At New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, studying theater design, I turned to henna patterns and the colors of cumin and the sea. But, by the second year of my program, I still had no bridge to the world my grandparents had left behind almost a century be- fore. Unexpectedly, I found that link via the U.S. Marine Corps. In January 2009, I became a U.S. Marine, like my father before me. Two years later, I was in Afghan- istan working as a linguist for the Marines. I had found my calling, but what institution would allow me to study both culture and international relations in order to make a positive impact on the fami- lies I had met in the Middle East? Johns Hopkins SAIS. by Sarah Abdella-El Kallassy ’18, Middle East Studies Gift I wound my way through the streets of New York City and beyond, searching for a new path, until I found myself standing on the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, like my father and so many before me.