The people who came before me

My great-grandmother lived her entire life in a tiny village on the Southwest coast of India. From the nineteenth through the twentieth century, she raised seven children and sent them all off to successful futures. Through the turbulent time that was India’s achievement of independence, she continued to carry on their way of life. With no running water, bathing in the river was a daily occurrence, as was carrying heavy buckets of water to their house from a well. Although I’ve never been to India, I still feel connected to her and to my heritage on the other side of the world. Now, I hear stories about her from the generations that came after her.

My grandmother was born in that very same village. Being the middle child of seven children, she took care of her three younger siblings as if they were her own. Cooking, cleaning, and carrying out other jobs in the house, her early years were no easy task. In her early twenty’s, she got married and moved to Malaysia, reluctantly leaving behind the only home she had ever known. She left behind everything that she knew, learned a new language, adapted to a new culture, and immersed herself in a new way of life. She became a chef, started her own family, and began to call Malaysia home. Now, I talk to her on the phone every week and hear the story of her life, the joy clearly apparent in her voice.

I may not speak the same languages or live the same way as the generations before me did, but I know that I have the same ambition set in my mind and the same emotion set in my heart.”

My mother was born in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur. She had to study hard and proceeded through Malaysia’s difficult exam-based schooling system. Often moving all across the country from army bases to small villages, she was raised the Malaysian way. At the age of only twenty years old, she moved all the way across the world to Iowa, a very unfamiliar and different place. Making new friends and adapting to American life, she studied even harder and advanced through the American college system. After getting married, she became a marketer, started her own family, and began to call the state of Illinois home. Now, I see her every day and perceive the thousands of tales she has to tell from the sparkle in her eyes.

And now, there’s me. I was born in a suburb just outside of Chicago. I’ve lived in Michigan, Florida, England, and China, learning so many new languages, systems, and education styles along the way. My family and I have been lucky enough to travel the world and see countless memorable sights. I’ll go to college, find a job, and someday, who knows what place I’ll end up calling home? At the end of the day, I may not speak the same languages or live the same way as the generations before me did, but I know that I have the same ambition set in my mind and the same emotion set in my heart. Every day, I’m able to live my life the way I do because of the people who came before me.