Having been born in Communist Poland, I have come to infinitely value my freedom and opportunities in America - although attaining them was neither easy nor without pain. When I was seven years old, my parents made a brave decision. They risked never seeing the things and people that were dear to their hearts - their families, their friends, and their home - so that I could have a chance for a future. Many times the journey to freedom almost crushed both our hearts and souls in its mighty grip, yet the three of us never gave up.
At times all we had to eat was some bread and a small jar of jam which we bought with the few pennies that I had earned catering to an old, overweight man who petrified me. Yet the fear of starvation scared me more. We even risked our lives on a false route to freedom; we would, in all likelihood, have died had not the Yugoslavian border police caught us. Later we learned that only two people had ever made it by that false route.
Eventually, through our persistence and the strength of our iron-clad hearts, we gained political asylum and our freedom here in the United States. We never gave up, and now our dreams are partially realized. My mother is attending the New England College of Optometry where her success is twice that of most students half her age, and my father is a very successful physical therapist. Now, with that same determination and iron-clad heart, I want to use every bit of the freedom and opportunity that my parents so nobly won for me. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.