Lessons from Twenty-Fifteen

Hello everyone!

I haven’t written in this blog for over a year! So, so, so much has changed. First of all, I am no longer nineteen, I have hit the big 2-1. I’m also not in my second year of University anymore, I am in my fourth year of Uni and last year of law school. And of course, during this period I sort of disappeared, so many events have occurred in my life, part of me has grown and become so much wiser, and part of me has remained my same old, flawed self.

However, the coming post is to update you on the adventure I had the privilege of going through this past summer. But before I go into that, I’d like to give a brief account of what the haps of 2015 were. The adventure will be in the next post (or post above).

Well, I’m going to be extremely honest and candid here and not sugarcoat anything- and if this offends you well there’s not much I can do. This post is mainly to motivate and inspire and let people see the silver lining in every dark situation and  to keep pushing through.

So to begin with, I came back home in 2015 after my summer break not in the best mindset, I had some difficulties with some people at University and I just wanted a fresh start but living in a city so small, I knew it wasn’t going to be possible. However, to keep it short, I ended up coming back, got involved with a few initiatives and groups, cut out a bunch of not-so-good people from my life and stepped down as president from the group I created in my first year because studies and workload was overwhelming and I had to take care of myself for a bit.

During this time, someone I had cut out of my life reached out to me expressing how horrible she felt about not having a relationship with me anymore and me being the empathetic person I am, immediately believed her and we met up and spoke. This same person took over my old group and I was still very supportive and offered my advice and assistance whenever I could. We became friends again and everything seemed fine, but unfortunately, I was put in the same circle I had made sure to leave before my summer break. To move this on a bit, it didn’t take much time before this same person kicked me out of that group I created (even kicked me out of the social media page I set up with original content, and sent some pretty mean texts). Another person in that circle gave me the cold shoulder relating to another matter and refused to speak to me (included a bunch of other things that I really don’t want to get into) and I eventually decided to end communication completely with her (funny enough, she continued trying to get in contact with me after I ceased contact and moved on with my life, but the damage was already done). And of course the odd childish, immature texts/ giving me the evils/ calling me weird and ‘too sensitive’ (as if that’s such an insult)  went on from the rest of the members of that toxic circle.

At this point, I was over the bullying and waste of space and time from these individuals and cut out every, single person. After all, we weren’t kids anymore (at least I wasn’t) and it was time for me to stop feeling sorry for myself and move on.

I mean, maybe if you read the above you’d be like “come on, that doesn’t sound too bad.” But honestly, I just cannot be bothered writing everything related to the issue because I’m pretty over it and all of them and refuse to play the silly games they play. But it was pretty bad and damaging to the point where I almost didn’t sit a practical assessment I had (which would result in an immediate failure of the paper). But luckily, with the support of my older sister and knowing that my partner in the assessment relied on me and I didn’t want to let her down, and my lecturers words of wisdom to me, made me push through and I ended up actually getting a decent grade on that assessment.

So Lesson #1: Don’t ever, ever, ever let anyone stop you from your education and the things you are passionate about.

And Lesson #2: If you  are passionate about something, and someone screws you over, don’t you ever, ever give up! You go out there and do what you were born to do a hundred times better and stronger!

It was such a struggle seeing those people the first few months after all those incidents happened, and every time someone would ask me about the group related to the issue, I would bite my tongue and refused to stoop down to their level by badmouthing them. (Of course, now I’m more outspoken about the issue because I realize you can be truthful and honest without being rude and mean).

After all this, I ended up spending a lot more time alone and just focusing on doing things that made me more productive. It really made me see how much you can succeed on your own and accomplish things when you don’t have people blocking you.

So I stumbled upon an advertisement of a competition organized by the ICRC and NZ Red Cross on Missing persons in armed conflicts using International Humanitarian Law(IHL). Now I knew from the very beginning that Human Rights Law and International Law were my areas of interest but stumbling on IHL was such a wake-up call and the area that I fell in love with at first sight.  So I began writing, and I wrote about Syria and Palestine, and after I submitted it, I didn’t dwell on it. In fact, I immediately assumed when I received an email back that I didn’t win the competition but by the Grace of God, turns out I had won first place and scored myself to an International Law conference in Wellington with flights and accommodation included. So I after a bit of a rocky start trying to convince my parents to go, I eventually packed my bags and flew solo to Wellington for the first time ever.

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Wellington was a city I fell in love with the moment I looked out of the window and saw the landscape mid-air. I was fasting at the time as it was Ramadan but I honestly couldn’t care less! This city was magic. From the artwork in the street, to the beautiful victorian buildings (at one point there was a Burger King in a very fancy old building and I found it extremely amusing), to meeting the new Syrians at the Kebab Shop, the buskers, the late night cafes, and exploring the city solo and with a friend. I would finish the conference and immediately run outside between breaks (when people were having lunch) and go to the Beehive and Parliament buildings and just enjoy every moment of it. I even go to visit the Red Cross Offices and received amazing material and resources from them.

And the owner of the house I was staying at was the nicest and kindest woman ever, truly a gem ! I just loved Wellywood, the wind would occasionally make my Hijab fly in my face but ultimately it was wonderful!

First time riding a train, ahhhh!

First time riding a train, ahhhh!

My university was extremely supportive of my achievement and I truly felt like slowly my pieces and life was molding itself back into the normalcy it once was.

(See here for article written by my law faculty). 

So Lesson #3: Don’t be in a circle just for the sake of having one. A circle can either be your circle of failure or circle of success. And trust me, you don’t want to be stuck in the first one. There is no shame in being alone. Quality over quantity any day.

I ended up after this enrolling in a Law paper on the Law of Armed Conflict at our university with my best friend and mentor and it was a delicious paper (yes, I just called the paper delicious because the information and knowledge we gained from it was superb).

I was also selected as one of 30 youth in New Zealand to attend a BootCamp for Campaigners and was partially sponsored by Oxfam NZ.

Although I haven’t spoken to many of the participants since then, I still keep updated with their lives and my God they are such amazing, inspiring influencers. They don’t know how much they influence me even though we don’t talk much anymore. I was pretty down after a spending a week with those change-makers but the camp refreshed me and made me so very motivated to tackle the issues I am passionate about.

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Lesson #4: Surround yourself with like-minded individuals! Go out there and find opportunities to be in the presence of people who empower you and help increase your knowledge on important issues in our society.

 

I then also was nominated by my sister for the Westpac Women of Influence Awards 2015 and was selected as a finalist in the Young Leaders Category. It was truly such a humbling and magnificent honor! I was nominated alongside amazing women that included Parris Goebel (you may know her as the choreographer of Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ Music Video).

Sorry it's not great quality, can't find the original one. But this is my sisters and I at Skycity on the big day.

Sorry it’s not great quality, can’t find the original one. But this is my sisters and I at Skycity on the big day.

 

Lesson #5: Cherish the good moments. As simple as it sounds. Remember them, and use those memories to keep you persevering in the challenges you might face later.

There are so many other things that took place in 2015 (LIKE A LOT) but the last one I’ll mention is my experience to join my first Mooting Competition. It was on International Humanitarian Law and was organized by the ICRC and NZ Red Cross.

So I put my name down, got paired up with another Law student and we had to audition (I’m not sure if that’s the right word) twice in two days in front of law lecturers and professionals. I ended up making it through to represent my law faculty alongside with three other students (as counsel, research clerk, and coach, respectively).

Well, I’m not gonna lie, the process of the preliminary rounds were extremely stressful for me and I cried a lot which brings me to,

Lesson #6:  Try to keep your complaints to a minimum, and if you do have to complain, make sure it’s to someone who will never use it against you. It can seriously backfire.

But anyway, we ended up flying together to Wellington as a team and it was one of my favorite experiences. My team was amazing and supportive and I wish I would have made more of the opportunity.

So you may have already guessed it but Lesson #7:  Make the most of every opportunity. Don’t let fear slow you down and ruin your moment. After I finished the competition, I realized just how fun it was and there was no reason to be so anxious.

A big shout out and thanks to our Coach who was the most patient and encouraging guy ever. I mean, I literally sat in front of my computer late at night sobbing my eyes out like a maniac while he patiently tried to calm me and pep talk me. Not gonna lie, I kind of feel embarrassed, but he’s so cool that he would never use it against me.

Teams from Waikato, Auckland Uni, AUT, Otago, and Victoria at the Old High Court in Wellington.

Teams from Waikato, Auckland Uni, AUT, Otago, and Victoria at the Old High Court in Wellington.

I’m getting kinda drowsy writing this, and I do have a really big day tomorrow, so I’m gonna end it here. I hope you enjoyed reading this and thank you so much if you read the whole thing!

Life can be a bit of  a downer at times, but please know that you are able to change the course of your future and if you are adiment, no one can stand in your way.

The next post will contain the amazing journey of getting chosen to be one out of 11 Kiwi Youth to join the Ship for World Youth program. Now thats a post that encompasses so much positivity and love and I cannot wait to share it with all of you.

 

Aroha and Salam,

Shay.

And Ramadan Mubarak!

And Ramadan Mubarak!

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My 168 Hour Famine for Syria

Hey Everyone!

Ive started my own campaign to raise money for two Syrian charities (One based in Jordan and one in New Zealand). 

I will be giving up food, furniture, etc for specific hours during that week (First week of July) 

This is the link here:

https://www.igiveonline.com/campaigns/shaymaas-168-hour-famine-for-syria/

Please give it a quick read or just watch the video and help support it. Even if you could just donate a dollar, it counts.

 

Thank you guys so much for reading through and help me raise my goal of 1500 dollars for Syrians!

#UnitedforSyria

Unleash your Kindness, not bitterness

Short post, that I initially posted on my facebook account and thought i’d share here too.
Here it goes:

 

Not trying to be cliche or cheesy or anything but something i have been noticing often these days is how people have to make themselves feel better by indirectly or even sometimes directly insulting others. Yes, yes, its all fun and games and jokes when you mention a comment here and there but sometimes there is a fine line.
This post isnt about me or about anyone is specific, its just something i have been noticing and it is really getting on my nerves.
Calling yourself prettier, fitter, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc than the person you are talking to could be really hurtful.
Yes of course there are people who are confident about themselves and will shrug if off, but have you ever thought that, i dont know maybe, just maybe, some people actually suffer from low self esteem and are already struggling with social anxiety because of how they feel about themselves and how negatively they think that people think of them, too?
If you are confident then props to you, really, thats awesome! But heres the difference between someones genuineness and someone just being a dick:
“Eating healthy isnt so tough, i can give you some easy recipes to try if you want.” awesome
” You need the exercise.” “I have never seen you at a time where you weren’t eating.” “At least i dont have to gym as much as you do.” what the actual hell…i know, i’ve heard it, it happens.
Why is it so difficult to be encouraging to someone about something they are struggling with rather than hurting them?
We honestly live in a society where pointing out each others flaws has become a social norm, a way of communication, a bond that brings some people together and it is incredibly sad.

Also another thing, we have a saying in Arabic (i know my Arab friends reading this will think i am such a fob, but i know you guys get what im getting at) which translates to: “If you knock on the door, then expect an answer.”
Meaning, dont you go around pointing the flaws of others and being mean and rude and selfish and then get so upset and hurt when someone does it back to you.
If you call someone ugly, then you have absolutely no right to get all pissed off and offended when someone says something negative about you.
Not sorry for this long az post (that i know most wont even read) because all i am trying to say is, when you think you are better than someone else, bite your tongue and think of something great about them.
When you think someone has something that you dont like, then bite your tongue a hundred times again and think of ten things that are lovely about them.

Rant, over.

Jeff Halper Talk at Waikato Uni

at Waikato Uni on 4th of September, come along!

wsjme

Jeff Halper who is co-founder and director of the Israeli Committee against house demolitions in Palestine, will be speaking at lecture theater AG.30 at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, NZ on the 4th of September (Wednesday) from 12-2 pm.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Palestinian/Israel issue.

If you have further inquiries, contact us on sjme.waikato@gmail.comImage

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Ramadan Mubarak

islamispeace

(This is an article i wrote to educate people about Ramadan and have submitted it to my University magazine, inshallah they agree to publish it. So i thought i’d also post it here 🙂 )

Al Salamu Alayakum (Which means Peace be upon everyone),

On Thursday 11th July Muslims in New Zealand began celebrating the Holy month of Ramadan. Now for those of you who know what Ramadan is, good on you!
For those of you who don’t, no worries! I thought I’d write this article to let people know and understand the beauty of Ramadan.

Ramadan takes place on the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar (Yes, there is an Islamic Calendar called the ‘Hijri Calendar’ 😀 ).

In this blessed month we must refrain ourselves from many things such as eating, drinking, smoking, and having sexual intercourse with partners (should be easy for the forever aloners) during daylight hours. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, where they can break their fast, usually by eating a date according to Sunnah (that’s right, guys, that’s the only kind of date we get every year!) This teaches Muslims about patience, spiritually, humility and Submissiveness to God.

By fasting, or not eating, it allows us to experience and feel what the poor are feeling but Ramadan is about much more than that, too! In Ramadan you must stop yourself from performing any evil action and in that way your whole body observes the fast.

Here’s how:

Eyes: Should refrain yourself from looking at unlawful things and objects.

Ears: Must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words (like songs that promote bad language and bad actions).

Lips:  Must refrain yourself from gossiping, backbiting, swearing, spreading lies, you must use your words for the better good.

Hand: Must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it and must not inflict injury upon others.

Feet: Must not go to forbidden places (Bars, etc.)

Ramadan helps clear the persons mind and focus on the important things in life rather than on worldly and materialistic things/objects. Muslims always use this Holy month to donate as much money as they can to the less fortunate, as well as provide food to others during iftar time( Iftar: when you break your fast). Muslims try our best to read the Holy Quran fully during this month as it is an extremely uplifting experience (Advice to the Muslims out there: Five pages after every prayer will allow you finish the Holy Quran within a month). Reading the Quran, whether it may be the 1st time, 2nd time, hundredth time, always teaches us new things and reminds us of several essential lessons as it has so much meaning and depth in it.

The cool thing about Ramadan is it could really better anyone, Muslim or non Muslim, so if this sounds nteresting to you, you should try it out!

Also, Hamilton Masjid (Mosque) in Rototuna (240 Thomas Road) will be holding iftar there on weekends for whoever wants to go along and have some delicious –probably Middle Eastern- food for iftar!
We don’t really have anyone running our Waikato Muslim Club here on campus so if anyone is interested in finding out more about Islam contact this email (email removed for privacy) or you can always shout “AL SALAMU ALAYKUM, BROTHER (or SISTER)!” to any Middle Eastern looking individual on campus and ask them 🙂

So to All the Muslims out there, RAMADAN MUBARAK AND HAPPY FASTING 😀 May this Ramadan bring peace, justice and respect in all corners of the world, inshallah Ameen!

Salam,
S.M.A.

 

Ramadan-Mubarak

My Identity

I will NOT allow anyone to tell me where i am from.

I will choose where i belong. I am sick of being asked where i am from and when i answer:

“I’m a New-Zealander.” They say, “Yeah but where are you ORIGINALLY from?”

When i say “I am Iraqi” they say, “But you’re not really fully from there.”

When i say, “I am Syrian.” they say, “No thats where your mum is from.”

And when i say, “I am Egyptian.” they say, “Quarter of your blood is not your blood at all.”

And when i finally give up and say, “I am a citizen of this world.” they say, “Man she thinks she is superior, she is way up herself.”

Enough.

I will not allow a single human being decide what i call home and what i identify myself as.

If i say Jannah/Heaven is my home, then so be it, because you are nothing in my life to judge me.

I am filisteen, masr, sooriya, jordon, 3ira8, tunisia, algeria, libya, afghanistan, pakistan, tajikstan, i am the rohingya, i am me.

I am a Muslim, i am an Arab and i am proud and if you want to know where i belong then i belong to wherever it is you belong, because darling if we really look at ourselves then we dont belong to one specific label, unless it is  the label of humanity and I, sir, am a human!

Short post, but nothing more to say, heres to all the half cast internationals out there, i feel you.
May Allah bless you all ,

A fed up teenager

I know…

My friend,

I know…i know you are trying hard wake up in the morning and everything is fine, and you strive and try hard towards doing good….and being a better person.

I know its hard when you bite your tongue a thousand times to not fight aggression with aggression and violence with violence….you stay steady and though a word or two might slip out you try to remain calm and at ease and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

I know its hard to wake up one morning and have everything turn from good to bad.

I know its hard to find that bad turn to worse.

I know its hard to have the people who are meant to protect you and keep you safe from sadness and misery turn against you.

I know its hard to know that people have been talking badly about you or making rumors and false statements about you.

I know its even harder when those people are the people closest to you.

I know its hard to have that one day where you want to feel special and have the excuse to feel happy and loved backfire at you. For the people most important to you to forget it is your birthday or simply ignore you. 

I know its hard because it hurts thinking that these very same people are not happy that this was the day you were bought into life.

I know its hard when you hold back your tears, swallow your sadness which then turns into illness. 

I know.

But do you know what i also know?
I know you are strong. 
I’ve personally accepted the fact that i am a good person…and people will wrong me. And they will give me painful headaches. And they will crush my heart. And they will make my blood boil.
But i know better than to fight violence with violence. I know that a smile is my best defense. 

I have accepted that i have one true friend, God. And He knows what is best for me. 
I know that the people of Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Africa have it worse than i do, so i should be thankful for the good and the bad.

Recently i came upon this quote:

“I asked God for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong, I asked God for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve, I asked God for courage and God gave me obstacles to overcome, I asked God for love and God gave me troubled people to help, I asked God for favours and God gave me opportunities. Maybe I received nothing I wanted, but i received everything I needed”. – Unknown

And it made so much sense. I started praying a few weeks ago for Allah to give me strength and subhanallah, i was bombarded with some wrong turns and bad events, but also subhanallah, my heart was stronger, and instead of feeling rage, i would smile and laugh and feel no pain. 

Maybe once i shed a few tears, but not because of what has happened to me, but because i feel so sorry for those who are doing evil to me, and i sincerely hope Allah blesses them with a change of heart. 
It hurts, i know, and things will never ever be a 100%.
You could be a saint and beautiful wonderful being, but there will be at least one person in this world who will hate you until your dying day.
What i am saying is dont let that less than 0.5% get you down, because in the big picture, they are nothing but a speck of dust.

I believe you are strong, and confident and wonderful. 
So forgive but dont forget.
Love but dont trust too quickly.
Be curious but do not judge. 
And remember, always be thankful to Allah, through the good and the bad, because whatever He throws at you it is because He knows you have the strength to beat it.

Peace and Blessing upon you all 🙂

 

Oh and p.s: I’m finally legal today 😉 Im officially 18 ! Yahooo

Always unexpected

You know, us humans are really weird.
I’m not sure if we were always like this, but right now it’s all I’m seeing.
Weird in the sense that why are we so afraid to show what we really mean or say? Or embarrassed even?

This is my personal thoughts, so you may oppose and your opinions may differ and if you do have a different opinion then good! Because it means you’re not getting hurt by people who do this to me constantly.

Since i was i dont know how old, these humans i’ve met in my mind have confirmed to me that i shouldnt trust anyone, but i don’t know why i always feel the need to give it one more shot.
Well I’m not fricking bulletproof, those things you do do effect me, the bullet does hit me and i do get hurt.

What I’m talking about is when you befriend someone and you become close to them and sooner or later (and for me its usually sooner) they just leave. 
And you still give, and give and give and give and they just, they just don’t care to put it simply. And because once upon a time that person was actually an important role in your life, you still try and try and try and nothing happens in return.
I’m giving you my all, and even now when I’m halfway across the world, i have your best interest at heart, i still worry about you and nothing. 

Its just really tiring sitting at the end of the table and watching people get up and leave with no warning, no excuse and never come back.
Even the people who didn’t make it easy for me, people who gave me a hard time,when they finally speak to me and act nice, i actually put in an effort into making it work but then again they’re the same.

I’m sick of feeling this way. I have feelings too. And just like you want to be treated fairly with love and compassion and respect, i want that, too.

But I’ve come to the conclusion i won’t find that with anyone here on earth. 
I constantly support and do what i can and they dont do the simplest things, just acknowledge my existence. 
You on your own, sitting in your room by yourself suddenly think of me, and casually out of nowhere ask how i’m doing, that would mean a lot. 
But I’m done expecting, because humans are so….

I just hope no one ever has to feel alone and always on guard and paranoid. 
Spread those smiles around and learn to love and be selfless….

Its tiring to feel this way all the time.

Updates

Hello everyone,

i know some are probably like, “oh this girl still uses wordpress?” I do! 😀

I’ve just been really busy moving cities and starting Uni and juggling five papers per semester and Law school isnt exactly a walk on the beach. Its more like a rollercoaster that has a lot of bumps and emotions. When i say emotions i mean when you sit their going over the same line and thinking, “Why am i so stupid? I cant understand any of this!” Anyhoo, its only been barely over a month so inshallah khair 😀 Hoping for the best, eh.

I’ll write my next post now and upload it as soon as i finis 

Blog to you soon

Hungry For Justice

Today, i fasted for a length of 24 hours in Solidarity with Samer Issawi and all other Palestinian Prisoners held under administrative detention in Israel.
The Campaign is worldwide and started 8pm local time and ends 8pm the next day.
No Food. Only Water.

Samer Issawi was arrested again on July 2012, has been held with no trial  and has been on hunger strike for over 200 days.
He says, “Freedom or martyrdom.” And this strong phrase says it all.
For a man to have the strength and faith to do this is beyond my imagination.

In Islam, every year in Ramadan we fast. So i’ve dealt with fasting before. BUT, it is from sunrise to sunset- no food, no water. But in the end of the day you’re getting your daily dose of vitamins, proteins, and basically just everything you’re craving.

And when i was 12, i also did a 24 hour famine for Africa and we collected donations.

Only difference now is, Im 17 years old and my body has grown and so the whole experience of eating nothing for 24 hours is a surprise to me.
You begin to feel dizzy, and tend to forget some things and feel confused. And thats only for 24 hours.
I began to get migraines today morning but i refused to take medicine because i knew this is what the prisoners go through everyday.
And i started to think, that I’ve only been doing this from yesterday.
How on earth must Samer and the others feel? Everyday?

Heroes. That is the one word to describe them. Heroes.
May Allah bless them and give us their strength and faith.

When this whole campaign rose and i decided to join it, some people asked me, “well, why are you doing it?” “Whats the point?” “Who will it benefit?”

All i can say is….one action can change everything.
I dont care if the world doesnt know specifically, “Shaymaa fasted for 24 hours, etc etc etc.” I really dont. All i care about is that news of what we are doing ends up reaching Samer and the detainees. That they know we are supporting and encouraging them no matter what!

Because when you hurt a brother of mine, you are hurting me! And i will stand by Samer and the Palestinians until my dying day!

If you want to know how standing in solidarity with them helps, read this article:
http://www.docjazz.com/index.php/articles/43-analysis/242-hungry-for-justice-palestinian-hunger-strikers

I mean think about it, how come we mention Samer Issawi’s name but not the others?
Thats right, because he decided to go on hunger strike and thats what caught our attention.
So by the world standing with him and doing the same, we are putting pressure on the Israeli government to release him and all prisoners held without charges!
Over 1000 people from over 45 countries are Standing with you, Samer!

You are a hero. A Champion. A Legend. May Allah bless you!

Only 35 minutes until our hunger strike ends. I am Hungry….but we are always hungry for Justice.

If you want to check out the campaign on facebook, click here:
Hungry For Justice

And if you’re a twitter user and want to show your support, hashtag #HungryForJustice, #FreeSamer and follow @samerissawi1

Last thing i want to mention is a huge thanks to everyone participating from all over the world! I am so proud of everyone of you even if all of you are strangers to me!

Together we will all make a change.

We should strive for justice and freedom Always,

Bless you all,

A hungry citizen

HS

 Oh And thats me with a sign saying  ‘I stand in solidarity with Samer Issawi & All Palestinian Prisoners  held under administrative detention in Israeli Prisons. #Hungry For Justice. “Your silence is killing them! Get hungry & save a live!” ‘ I did not write that quote, i got it from this guy

Im sorry the picture is really unprofessional. But i had barely any equipment to do this, i barely found a piece of A4 paper and no one to take a photo of me so i had to take a meh one lol And if you’re wondering why i am smiling when its such a serious issue and im fasting and should be ‘tiered’ its because 24 hours is nothing compared to 200 days and so i do with a huge smile because i have no right to complain and feel sorry for myself 😀 (Y)