Hello, my name is Natalie and all my life I have lived in Ohio. I was born in Maple Heights and moved to Parma shortly after. I learned to speak English from the people around me. I have learned values and morals mostly from my parents, but some on my own. My parents have taught me many things. From when I was a kid, they taught me how to ride a bike and when I got older, they taught me how to drive a car. Now that I am an adult, I am paying bills and saving money to move out on my own someday. However, sometimes I wonder, “what if I was born in a different country?” Would I have these same values and morals? Would my parents have taught me how to do the things that I know how to do? Is what I know and what I do “American?” I have had many experiences in my life; but, were these experiences American experiences or does everyone in the world go through the same things but in different languages?
I have a friend who I will call Roxi. Roxi was born in Bacau, Romania in 1988 and in 1995, as a joke, her father applied for the Visa lottery and actually won. Over a few months, her parents contemplated leaving the only country and the only language they knew for a completely different world. They finally decided to sell and give away everything they owned when the final notice for the visa came. With only $500 in hand and only one contact in the United States, Roxi and her parents packed up and left. Their one contact, a priest of a Romanian Church here in Cleveland, with whom they did not have any prior relations with, brought them to their new home: America. This priest put them up in an apartment, gave them a few household necessities, and pointed them in the direction of jobs, ESL classes, and grocery stores. With their $500 they bought a used Chevy Celebrity and paid for their first month’s rent. Roxi had to start school within days of her arrival, even though she did not know a word in English. Many people think it is cool to be from another country and love to hear their foreign friend’s stories, I know I do. However, it is not always as cool as we think. Children from foreign backgrounds have to quickly adapt. I have seen Roxi struggle with her identity: is she Romanian, American, or Romanian-American? I have seen her fight with her parents, who always want her to do things the Romanian way even though her parent’s ways do make things harder for her at times. And I have heard many of her sometimes good and sometimes bad experiences in Romania and in the United States. Throughout this blog I would like to highlight some of her stories about hardships, fun times, and the differences she has seen between the European lifestyle and the American lifestyle. I will be interviewing her, and I hope to interview other people from different counties, on topics such as family life, academic life, social differences, discrimination, etc. and highlight them in this blog. For now, I leave you with a few questions to think about: who are you? Where are you from? And, does where you are from shape your identity?