Before I continue my story, I need to tell you about an Armenian cartoon called կախարդական լավաշ which means “the magic lavash (flat bread)”. It gives me great pain that this superb work of art loaded with life’s lessons can only be understood by Armenians. In many ways, my life is the story of the little boy in the cartoon who decides to explore the world to find his destiny. His mother gives him her blessing along with the magic bread which replenishes itself during his journey. I had received $500 from my parents which I used as a security deposit to obtain my first secured credit card. Each time I used the card (my rainy day fund) to buy something, I’d work hard to pay it off and the “lavash” would be whole again. There are many other parallels…
I boarded the jet promising myself to only look forward and came back to live with my American family and attend St. Petersburg College. I will be eternally grateful for everything that they have done for me throughout the years.
My first semester at the community college was about to start but I did not have the tuition money or a way to get back and forth to school. My Armenian “cousin” from Florida without hesitation wrote a check for $1,638.52. I keep the receipt in my valuables along with two other pieces of paper: copy of $500 check from my Armenian friends in Boston (who are now my in-laws) to buy a car to get back and forth to school, and a receipt for $145 from the other Armenian family in Florida for car insurance who also did so much for me in the next few years. I must also mention our high-school friend’s mom (again without mentioning names) who drove me back and forth to school along with my American parents for months until I had a driver’s license and a car. In Independence And Interdependence, when I wrote “others around me understood how much help I really needed and were there to help” I had in mind these and a few other wonderful people.
The first semester at school would have been impossible had it not been for all these folks coming together to help me. My parents were thousands of miles away and had already given me all the money they had.
Today, I do not appreciate hearing anyone say negative opinions about Americans. As far as I am concerned, these people are America, from different backgrounds, different levels of education, different levels of income and wealth, with different values, yet all coming together at a time of need to help a foreign kid stand on his own two feet.