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One Heck Of A Story

Alesia Vialichka's story posted on June 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm. Alesia emigrated from Grodno, Belarus to New York, United States in 2005

 


The story is written by Camp RSM @ Sunapee  Alesia Vialichka.


“Can I have some potatoes free?” my dad asked with his “r” rolled.“We have...French fries? They're not that expensive...”We all laugh now, but seven years ago my dad’s face flared up like a red balloon.


 We were visiting a Cape Cod beach for the first time and my dad attempted to order some food for our small first-generation American family, trying his best to translate “French Fries” fromRussian to English. As a child, I knew who I was and what I wanted to do. I had my family by one side, and my friends by the other. Living in Belarus for eleven years shaped me into the young girl that I now feared no one would understand in America. I became an outsider the moment my airplane landed, and the journey from then on was nothing like I expected my teenage years to be. My sister began to attend kindergarten, while I was put into middle school filled with pre teens where I was seen as “abnormal.” It didn’t take long to feel the cultural difference. Sweatpants and shoes that fell apart seemed to be the cool style in my new school, while I knew that if I ever went outside looking like that in Belarus, I would be shunned. The relaxed attitude in school and the common behavior that I considered rude was absolutely shocking to me.


 I wasn't just new, I was foreign. I was the foreign kid who didn't speak a word of the native language and was forced to play a game of charades on a daily basis. Out of my four person family, I was hit by the change the hardest. Although every day was a roller coaster as some would smile at me with pity and others would glare with annoyance, my experience helped me fully understand this ongoing divide between immigrants and “non-immigrants.” It forced me to expand my narrow Belarusian mindset and become someone on the border between the aliens and the citizens. I didn’t just have to learn English, but also the correct way to eat a hamburger. I soon became the first fluent English speaker in my family. From then on, I had to take on the role of my parents and lead my family along the journey of making America our new home. Even to this day, I have to call my sister's school to explain her absences; call the doctors to ask for an appointment; come to every meeting my parents attend so they can understand the conversation.


 I became the representative of my family. As the first person in my family to graduate from an American high school , I will pave the path for the many that will follow. I realize that I will be the one that many future generations will come back to when they search for their roots, and I am more than proud tohold this title. I might not have my full family by one side, but I have a whole new purpose which encourages me to make this journey one heck of a story.


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