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War Transformed Our Family

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Growing up, everyone in my family was afraid of my mom. When she got angry, she would turn into a tiger. She’d scream loudly, and her voice turned throaty and scary. Sometimes, she even hit my younger sister and me.  Dad would also avoid mom when she wasn’t in a good mood. When I heard […]

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Home in My Heart

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When I was 5, I had lived my whole life in Luhansk, Ukraine. Then, in April 2014, Russia  invaded Luhansk and another nearby region, Donetsk. Russia declared them independent states and renamed them Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.   These name changes are part of how the Russian government tries to erase the Ukrainian […]

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More Than a Stereotype  

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Growing up as a Mexican-American, I’ve grown used to people reducing me to a stereotype (one teacher confidently called me “Jose”). I’ve even experienced people assuming that, because my family is Mexican, we’re criminals—that we’re a harm to the economy and to society and that we leech off of the US government. Though people think […]

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Moving Forward On My Own 

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When I was 6, my father took my two brothers and me to New York’s famous Far Rockaway beach. Humongous waves slammed on us, and we were fascinated by our first experience on American sand. I didn’t know how to swim, so I clung to the safety that the shallow water provided. Apparently not safe […]

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