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November 1, 2012

I constantly find myself wondering if I will tire of this project and if the stories I am hearing will get repetitive. Right now each meeting and interview I have is like Christmas morning for me. When the “interviewee” opens the door we both have no idea what will unfold in the next few hours. 95% of them do not know me at all and I do not provide any pre-interview information regarding the questions I will ask. Discovering the layers of each person’s life, the struggles and triumphs they have experienced in their life is inspiring each and every time. But will the excitement and newness of this journey wane? I find myself lying in bed wondering why I am completely fascinated by each person and yesterday the answer came to me…Currently in our society, it seems like people are constantly searching for the right/”best” way to do things…everything. Take parenting for example. It starts well before the birth of a baby…there are a zillion books on maternity. Expectant parents often find themselves questioning if they are doing the “right” thing in all aspects related to their unborn baby…eating, exercising, preparing for the arrival, having the right supplies and equipment, singing/talking/wearing headphones on your tummy so your baby will be delivered better prepared to learn to walk and talk…so many different options and methods often leave the parents unsure if they are prepared for parenthood. Additionally, each choice will come with advice and judgment from family, friends, doctors and complete strangers on the internet, in line at a grocery store…expectant parents are inundated with endless “best” ways to raise a child. And then, when the baby finally arrives, there are a zillion approaches to parenting, a zillion more books to support new parents (or provide you with insecurity because your baby is not following the pattern offered in the book you have chosen), and EVERYONE offers free advice and opinions that can provide support but often create more uneasiness about how a parent has chosen to parent. This craziness exponentially increases as the baby grows…how can a parent create the brightest, most successful, most well-rounded, thoughtful, compassionate, driven child that will go on to achieve great things??? There are an infinite amount of resources (some free and some costing thousands of dollars) to help you find the answers and best path for your child. All of these options create a mania for parenting…constant questioning, constant judgment of yourself and others…all of which can foster insecurities in adults and their children. This example can be used for all aspects of life—going to college, determining a career path, diet and exercise, etc.

What I find with people who have arrived from a foreign land is that they often arrive without a road map. They arrive filled with aspirations, believing in the American Dream…anything is possible. They are thankful to be living in the land of opportunity. They do not have time to explore every option under the sun to determine the “best” path. Most immigrants do not have family or friends to rely on for support or advisement. They simply put one foot in front of the other in hopes of turning their aspirations into a reality. They start “doing” and in doing they discover answers to what will work best for their life. When one foot goes in front of another and another and another, miles can be traveled, mountains can be climbed, challenges can be overcome and, over time, incredible lives are formed. Each and every time I interview or meet someone new I am reminded of the strength of the human spirit.  It inspires me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not let my worry and doubt take me down. I now know that I will never tire of this project because each person is unique and I will be re-inspired every time! I hope that sharing their stories here and in other formats you will be inspired too!


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