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As the new student in my sixth grade English class, I was asked where I was from. “Where is your home?” a classmate inquired. As I opened my mouth to answer, I was struck by the sudden realization that there was no particular place that I was able to readily identify as my home, no place that I could confidently declare was where I belonged.
I was born in the anything but humble country of Argentina. To me, Argentina is central to my cultural identity, the land of my forefathers, the hub of the tumultuous journey I call my life. But I still do not consider it my home; I was only there for a minute fraction of my life.
When I was four, Argentina was in the early stages of its “Gran Depresion.” The economy was diminishing, crime rates were increasing, and unemployment was rising. In my naiveté, I never imagined the atrocities would come near my family. I was wrong. One traumatizing day, we received word that there had been abductions a few miles from our home; one victim was a close family friend. My father, a respected veterinarian, decided it was the right time to apply for a student Visa to the United States to further his education, but more importantly, to keep us safe. Six months later, the Visa was approved. I left kindergarten mid-year and was on my way to Baltimore.
As soon as it felt like we had finally settled in this new “home”, my father’s Veterinary degree was expired. We were later notified he had to prove that he was able to proficiently speak English to renew his veterinary license. Over the next 4 years, my father studied incessantly. Whether it was 2 AM or 10 AM, he would go running when he needed an energy boost. When the day of the first examination came, my family was ready. We travelled with him to Boston where the test was being held and levied emotional and mental support when he needed it. After that day, we waited. When the results arrived, my father tried with all his might to fight back his tears, and I quickly broke down. He passed 2 out of the 3 portions of the exam.
After countless tries, sleepless nights, and disappointment-filled tears, my father was finally able to work as a licensed Veterinarian. With a Veterinarian license in hand, seeking the next step in his career led us to Miami, Florida. In July 2013, after years of meticulous hard work, my father and my role model, earned his Master’s degree in business.
I used to envy those that have lived in one home their entire lives; that sense of stability is a luxury I never had. I’ve never known what to expect and have always found ways to adapt to each new environment. There is a world to see beyond my cement patio, lush with my prospective future, and I want to be able to experience as much of it as possible (and not just from a tourist’s perspective). But I do know that the opportunities my journey has provided me are too valuable to give up, opportunities I would not have dreamt of as a young child in Argentina. I’ve learned that a permanent home represents a lot of important emotions and experiences that I’ve never had. But more importantly, what I know is that to come out on top in this world, you can’t give up, and you must follow your ambitions to their ends.
Fast forward to Ms. Barton’s sixth grade class, and I’m still speechless. After a great deal of thought I muster the words, “My home is where I can keep moving forward.”
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