It is a Part of Who I Am

January 22, 2009
By Andrea Boggs, Kent, WA

“I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become”- James Rhinehart

I grew up in loving chaos. Family gatherings and reunions were always an unruly circus filled with running, laughing, yelling, dramatic stories, and getting in trouble; the memories are never-ending and unforgettable. My family is Yugoslavian and lives up to the stereotype of being a loud, strong willed, and determined ethnic group. As dramatic and tiresome as it may become being a part of my massive and flamboyant family, I finally realize that my background and family history has made me who I am. Coming from a large family has made me a stronger person, and has filled me with a sense of confidence and self respect that will benefit me later on in my life.
In grade school I always felt like my ethnicity wasn’t exciting enough to share. My friends all had interesting backgrounds; Mexican, Australian, Canadian, etcetera. I got tired of the puzzled looks when a classmate would ask me where my family came from, and I told them Yugoslavia. There were many times when I would lie and say I was French and attempt to talk with a fake accent in order to impress my peers (I wanted to be like Madeline). As I grew older the silly fibs subsided, but I was never thrilled about my background that no one knew of. I loved my family, but our ethnicity was never really a big deal for me.
As years passed I developed a stronger sense of myself. My friends always looked to me for truthful, honest advice and relied on me to call someone out when they were in the wrong. When I would go to family get-togethers I noticed that I was becoming more and more like my relatives everyday; strong-minded and persevering. It never really dawned on me how much my family background influenced my thoughts and the way that I talked until eighth grade graduation.
It was the award ceremony; I was sitting back, joking with my friends and sharing excitements about the upcoming high school years. My history teacher got up to the podium and started talking about a student that he admired for “her willingness to tell it like it is” This description was followed by the name ‘Andrea’. I was blown away; I never really won anything and was amused by the fact that when I did it was because of my personality traits inherited from my iron-willed family. I glanced down at my certificate and in bold letters it reads, “The Strong Voice Award”. It was at that moment when I knew that I was proud to be Yugoslavian, and proud to be part of my boisterous family. Now that I have finally recognized the impact that my ethnicity has had on who I am, I will take this newfound knowledge and use it to become successful and be the best person I can.

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