November 8, 2011
Looking out the glass window to see sparkling waters and white sands, I wondered why my dad left this paradise. Little did I know that Cyprus was once a war torn country. During my trip to Cyprus, the country where my father grew up, I learned about the struggling history of my family.

As I enjoyed a traditional Cypriote meal with my father's relatives, my father translated my family's stories about their experience with the Turkish invasion of 1974. My father explained that when he was 14 his family was forced to leave his home and belongings, and they ran away into the woods to hide from the Turkish invaders. Within moments everything my family owned was taken away. After being in hiding, my grandfather found a three bedroom, one bathroom home for his family of 7 and two other families to live in. My dad lived there until he turned 18 when he could join the army. I listened to his story in shock. I never knew that my dad had gone through such a traumatic experience growing up. Sitting in my grandparent’s home, I imagined two other families sharing this little house, and almost couldn't believe it to be true. My father went on to explain his thoughts while serving in the army. He planned to be educated in America and make a better life for himself. He did just that when he was released from the army. He moved to New York and enrolled at Baruch College. He was in a foreign country not knowing the language and with only a hundred dollars in his back pocket. By hard work, my father was eventually able to become a successful man who was able to provide for his family. I always knew my dad worked hard to get where he is today, but I never heard his full story.

From then on I knew it was my obligation to make my father proud, and all his hard work would be worth it. I will not let his hard earned money go to waste when I attend college. My ultimate goal is to be a successful psychologist and create more opportunities for future generations, just as my dad I did. Through listening to his experiences in life, I know that all things are possible through hard work and dedication. Even in the worst of times I know that I can pick myself up by my bootstraps and get through it. My dad and his family have a great influence on how I got through my hardships. Although our hardships are different, I use the same determination my dad did when he was getting through his lows in life. One of my father's greatest lessons he taught me was to never dwell on the bad things in life, but instead work to make things better.

My trip to Cyprus opened my eyes to a world I didn't know existed. I learned my family's history which changed my outlook on life. I know I have it in me to become successful because of the hard-working family I come from. I am determined to make them proud and live up to their expectations.

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