I grew up in a wonderful small town. We are a tight knit community and do not get many students coming in and out of our school system. Growing up, I was the only African-American girl in my class. It was hard for me to embrace my ethnicity because that made me different and I only wanted to fit in. When I was 12, my dad talked about the fantastic opportunity for our family to move overseas.Soon we were clearing out our house and boarding a plane to our new home in Barcelona, Spain.

During my two years of living in Barcelona, I became friends with students from Brazil, England, Portugal, and Holland.I learned about life in countries very different from the USA.I traveled with my class for a week in Rome and a week on the island of Mallorca. I traveled with my dad on a mission trip to Latvia and traveled with my family to England, Portugal, France, and Italy. I came to love people from different ways of life and loved hearing stories of their cultures and customs.

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We returned home to Oregon for my freshman year of high school.I was upside down for a bit, trying to figure out which culture was my own, as well as settling down with my old friends.I had a case of reverse culture shock!After living with people from around the world with backgrounds very different from mine, I was back living with friends who seemed the same as me only it was the old me.

I struggled for a long time with expressing my ethnicity. One of the biggest parts of who I am is my African hair. For years I have battled with it, trying to tame and control how it looks. I have very curly hair that I never knew what to do with, so it was always thrown up in a pony tail. Most of my friends wore their hair this way, so I fit right in. It took me awhile to figure out how I wanted to express myself with my African hair. (I was adopted at birth by a wonderful Caucasian family, who can help me with many things but not with my hair!) I finally realized that I ju…

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