I Will Not Leave the Harbor

Alja - Urbandale, Iowa
Entered on January 24, 2011
Themes: family, immigrant

I am grateful to have a Bosnian culture within an American lifestyle. The lifestyle of an American has allowed me to have a rewarding education, and has allowed my family to make a great living. The success is in my American lifestyle, but the Bosnian culture and traditions are rested inside my home. I believe in not straying from home, no matter where the success of a certain lifestyle may take me. I believe in home being more than four strong walls and a roof. I believe in home being a special kind of harbor; where the ships depart, but never truly leave.

I first realized this at the age of ten, when my mother dropped me off at my grandmother’s house. I was excited to tell her about my trip to the zoo. “Grandma, Grandma!” I called from the front entrance. My grandmother poked her head out of the kitchen and seemed rather confused. I skipped my way over until I was right in front of her. “I went to the zoo today. The bus ride was two hours long! You should see the desert display they have, and all the sharks and fishes!” I would have continued, but the confusion on my grandmother’s face did not vanish. Then I remembered, she did not understand the language I was speaking. My grandmother only spoke Bosnian.

My dad lectured me for months after that incident. His words ring in my ears to this day, “You can explore the whole world, but do not stray from home.” My father was not referring to home as our actual house, but as the culture and diversity within our family. The values and beliefs I gained at childhood have not changed; instead they acted as building blocks for future beliefs. The significance behind my beliefs is the people who introduced them to me.

My family has helped me develop the belief of not straying from home. Most of my family members have shown me how to cherish a certain culture, while having a completely different lifestyle. It is my grandparents who remind me to speak Bosnian in my household and in theirs. It is my mother and my aunts who remind me to whip up a Bosnian dish, instead of ordering a pizza. It is my uncles and cousins who remind me to bring my tennis shoes to family celebrations, because a game of soccer will always be played. It is my father who encourages me to explore the world, while keeping family close to the heart. For me, home is more than four strong walls and a roof. At some point in my life, I will leave these four strong walls and roof, but I will not stray from the people who remain inside. I will not stray from my family or from my culture. At some point in my life, I will become a departed ship, but a ship that truly never left its harbor.