When I was in fifth grade, I was assigned to do a research paper based on my mother or father’s background and family history. I decided to choose my mom’s family because I knew she had moved around quite a bit when she was younger. My perspective on everything changed after doing that project. When I first began the project, my mom suggested that I talk to my grandpa, as he could give me the best information about the past.
My grandpa started the story describing how he was born in Cairo, Egypt. He said his ancestors from years back were also from Cairo as well. My grandpa explained to me how he met my grandma, got married and had two children in Cairo. He then proceeded to explain to me how when my mom was about 4 years old and my aunt was 6, a group of soldiers invaded their home and took my grandpa away. The solider took my grandpa away on the sole basis of being Jewish. After my grandpa was taken away my grandma new she had to leave with her two children and get to safety. My grandma, my mom, and my aunt got in contact with the Italian government, where they had family, and organized to get onto a boat from Cairo to Italy. When my mom and her family got to Italy, they had to live in a tiny one-room apartment and had frequent meetings with officials of the Italian government. Finally, the Italian government was able to rescue my grandpa ad re-unite with him with his family. Shortly there after, my mom and her family moved to the United States. I new at this point, I had discovered the most important part of my family’s past, because my view on many things suddenly changed.
Before this story, I never appreciated how good my life was and still is. It made me realize how lucky I am to live in a community where everyone is completely accepting of my identity. It was never something that I had ever thought about before at such a young age. It also made me realize how lucky I am to be able to live with my family, when so many people aren’t able to at certain points in their life.
Not only did the story change my perspective of my own life, but also how I viewed others. At a mere 11 years old, racism was never something that had really crossed my mind before. However, after learning about this story it was brought to my attention that even in 2000s racism still exists, and not everyone is always treated equally, as they should be. Now, almost 8 years later this philosophy still sticks with me. I’m determined to never treat anyone differently based on gender, skin color or religion.