My dad’s side is 100% Lithuanian, which is one of the three countries that seceded from the USSR in 1991. I’m 50% Irish from my mom’s side. My grandpa moved when he was thirteen, with his family. They came to the U.S. because they wanted to try and find the American dream – I think they found it because they have a family, a home, and happiness. Because of my grandpa’s sacrifices coming to the United States, I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like if I was still in Eastern Europe. I’m so far removed from that type of life, so I don’t even know what it would be like. Especially today with everything that is going on with Russia and Ukraine. Just being able to do what I want in America is a really unique gift. I get to become the person I want to be.
On my mom’s side, my great-great grandparents moved here from Germany and were 19th century farmers in Minnesota. That farm has been passed down from generation to generation and the state awarded it a 150 year award for cultivating the land and yielding crops year-after-year. The farm has been passed down; right now my grandma holds onto that farm. My great-grandparents on my dad’s side came from Poland. They settled in a neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that was nearly completely Polish, similar to what you might see in the suburbs of Boston or New York. I’m not completely sure if they had friends or other family members in that area, but that’s where they felt comfortable. It was important for them to hold onto their Polish roots. I think it would be scary for anybody to move to another country. I think it would be only natural for them to cling to their own and familiarize themselves with that area via their own people instead of trying to completely move into a new and unfamiliar world.