Last Thursday in Senior Speeches, Gabriel Ruja ’15 talked about his grandparents’ efforts to escape communist Romania and bring their son, Gabriel’s father, to the United States. He talked about their struggles in Brooklyn, New York—none of them spoke English, his grandparents’ skills and previous titles held no value, and his father was beaten by other kids just because he was different and couldn’t speak English well.
I’ve been thinking about Gabriel’s speech every day since. I think about all of the students who come to Shattuck-St. Mary’s School from other countries to study; then I think about all of the students and families who move to Faribault because their home country is no longer safe. I wonder what struggles these new families face that we don’t know about. I wonder how challenging they find life in American society. I wonder how often they are treated in a manner similar to Gabriel’s father, simply because they are new and different and “strange.”
We don’t know—can’t possibly know—all of the things people carry around with them on a daily basis. Those things make them who they are and influence the way they look at the world.
For me, Gabriel’s speech is a reminder not only to treat everybody the way we want to be treated; it is also a reminder to stay vigilant and notice when someone’s load seems to be getting too heavy.