As a young girl I was always a dreamer. Meeting new people, asking questions and telling stories helped my imagination and identity develop. Writing and blogging is my passion, and I’m very excited to share my story with you.
I grew up on the ethnically-rich southwest side of Chicago. Traditionally a haven for Eastern and Central European immigrants, by the time I was a young girl it was vibrantly multi-cultural. The first time our garage was burglarized, it was our Mexican-American neighbors who organized their sons and nephews to help us repair the damage, while the Lithuanian WWII émigré across the alley was my babysitter when my parents were in a bind.
I began competitively ice skating when I was my daughter’s age, two-and-a-half-years-old. The artistry, flow and majestic technical quality of the sport captivated me immediately. I would often skate six hours a day, waking up at 4am sometimes to skate before school and then continuing to practice skating, as well as ballet and weight training after school until the evening. Even though I quit the sport at age sixteen due to injuries and an aching desire to be a “normal teenager”, the discipline, mental organization and love for the arts has remained the core of who I am as a woman.
A commitment to sports also gave me stability and occupied the time that I was unable to spend with my parents. As recent immigrants to America, they worked incredibly hard. My father immigrated through Sweden on his way to America, and worked in Malmo cleaning shipping containers to pay for his travel to the United States. In Chicago, he worked nights managing a cleaning crew, while my young mother did administrative office work by day and took night classes for her masters degree in Business Administration. They are proof that America is the land of opportunity and that one can come here with nothing and produce so much through pure grit.
I’m ashamed to say that being the child of immigrants was something I often resented throughout my early life. I begrudged being marginalized as an outsider, and was even occasionally insulted in school by disparaging comments about “Polaks”. It was hurtful, but made me work even harder to excel in my academic work and sports.
My coming-of-age experience in the colorfully ethnic city of Chicago had an enormously formative affect on my identity. Today, I view my upbringing with great pride and hope to relay the essence of diversity and community I felt growing up through the Arts in Embassies program my husband and I are bringing to Stockholm. The program will focus on young artists and the way their art contributes to the fabric of Americana.
My husband shares a similar coming-of-age story as the child of Eastern European immigrants. Our shared values create a strong foundation for our daughter, who is our light and inspiration.
We yearn to be the best parents for Aurora, and have always dreamed of giving her an international experience. We wanted her to learn early on that the world is big, diverse and full of opportunity and amazing people.
Today, this dream is a reality and I’m so thrilled to be here in Sweden. The sense of duty and great honor I feel is unparalleled. Not only is it a bucolic land, but the Swedish culture embraces many of the principles that we hope to imbue upon Aurora; a sense of community, a duty to other human beings, a love of nature and its bounty, tolerance of all peoples and perspectives, and intellectual curiosity.
I hope you will be part of this new chapter in our lives, and help me give Aurora a great start. Please follow our stories through this blog, and join our adventure!