My life: In a nutshell

September 5, 2008
Back in the 1570’s Sir Francis D. sailed the seas for Queen Elizabeth 1. Sir Francis Drake was one of the best sailors of all the Elizabethan sailors. When he returned to England, he was even knighted, which was a great honor back then. Over 400 years later, here I am. Sir Francis D. is my dad’s great, said many times, grandfather. Although we may not resemble each other physically, he is apart of my background. All the way across the ocean, my parents were born in Michigan and Indiana. They both grew up in small towns. I grew up in Indianapolis, and moved to Westfield when I was in second grade. Living in a small city doesn’t really expose me to many different cultures, but I’ve still had the chance to travel and learn about them.
Before I was born, my parents got married and lived in Africa for two years. There they did missionary work in the schools. The African culture is a part of my life in a small way, but it’s still there. I’ve seen many pictures and my dad still enjoys speaking the language occasionally. From their experiences there, I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have.
I was raised as a Christian and ever since I was born, I have been attending Church at the Crossing. My parents have influenced my values by taking me there. They have inspired me to live my life with God. Recently I traveled out of the country for the first time. With the youth group from my church, I flew to a small town in Mexico called Piedras Negras. There we did what is called vacation bible school with the children in a small neighborhood. To be immersed in the culture was a great experience for me. Even though ‘Hola’ was the only word many of us could say in Spanish, we learned that there are a few things that are known universally. One smile from one of us could spread throughout all of the children within seconds. Taking out a soccer ball was like sending a silent invitation to the entire neighborhood saying “Party!”. We walked out into the streets not knowing what to expect, but somehow made an impact on the lives of about twenty little kids by showing them what kind of person they could be if they know God.
Besides me, my parents also have two other children. My older brother’s name is J.C., and my younger sister’s name is Jenna. Although I sometimes like to shout “Middle Child Syndrome,” it isn’t that bad being in between. I get to do a lot of stuff on my own and sometimes I like to learn and be by myself.
Around the Holidays my family usually follows the same tradition every year. We celebrate the Sundays of Advent, the birth of Christ, set out the nativity, and give presents. We always have a big Christmas tree taking over the corner in our living room and we usually procrastinate all of our Christmas shopping. I don’t know how the presents even get wrapped at all. Even though the Santa Clause belief isn’t still present in our house, it’s still exciting to see the presents from Santa waiting under the overflowing stockings in the morning. Every Christmas Eve we go to church, then go to my grandma’s to visit the family. There we eat dinner and exchange a few presents. Christmas morning we eat breakfast, read the Christmas story in the bible, and then open our presents. We don’t usually break the tradition.
Like the young girl from “Dyaspora”, it seems like I have two sets of friends. My church friends influence me to do well in God’s eyes while my friends from school are always there for a good time. Both groups influence my decisions and what kind of person I am. With my friends from church I go to I see them every Sunday, on mission trips, and sometimes Saturday nights. I see my friends from school every week day. I eat lunch with them, learn at school, and hang out on Friday nights.
When I was born my father took one look at me and shouted, “It’s a…, It’s a Carissa Joy!” My parents had picked out my name and my brother’s name on their honeymoon. No one in my family has my name and I wasn’t named after any well known person. My name is pretty rare in general. The Greek meaning of the name Carissa is beloved. My middle name Joy didn’t come from anything either. It can mean bliss or happiness. I don’t think that my name has really changed what kind of person I am. I also don’t think that it fits me. Sometimes I don’t like my name because no one can ever spell it right, and sometimes I can be hard to pronounce, but I have learned to live with it and it is apart of me.
There are many different cultures everywhere you go in the world. Everyone has a different life, and will grow up in different cultures. Cultures affect peoples’ values, behavior, language, and what kind of person they are. I’ve seen a lot of things in my life and many things have influenced me. I take pride in being a Christian, having good grades, and good friends. The culture I grew up with has helped me shape my life. That is why cultures are so important.

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