My family name has many different meanings to me besides the literal translation: “white house." For me, it’s being half Sicilian and half Greek. Both sides of my family share similar traits but also differ greatly in some areas. The juxtaposition of both loud, strong cultures has given me a specific wealth of knowledge and experience that I would’ve otherwise never had. On my Dad’s side, we have the crazy, loud, nosy and affectionate Sicilians who speak broken English. Their journey might be the most quintessential story of the American dream. They came to the country poor, but they believed that hard work and the support of family would pay off. And it did. They acquired wealth through real estate and have passed it down for generations. On my mom's side, there’s the classic Greek family from Queens; they don’t speak any English and still have not learned the social norms of today's society. However, their dreams of coming to America didn’t pan out the way those of my dad’s family did. Many people in my mom's family still struggle to make a living. I have seen the struggle of finding a job, the need for unemployment and rent control through the members of my mom’s family. Though both cultures share very similar family traits and values, each side of my family has taught me vastly different things in life that I carry with me today and that is my American Creed.
My dad’s side of the family has taught me about hard work and the importance of family. There is probably nothing on this planet my dad's family values more than their blood. Since I was born, I have learned how important the bond between family members are instilled into me by all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. They pride themselves on being there for each other no matter what. They help each other no questions asked any time of day, anywhere, any circumstance. That has always been something I have valued because of seeing how powerful that bond was to my family. They have also shown me that hard work and keeping your head down can get you very far in life. My dad and his family moved the US when he was seven years old. They spoke no English, had little money, and were in a completely new environment. My Dad constantly relays the point of, if my Grandpa hadn’t been such a hard worker, my life would not be the same. His discipline came from serving in Mussolini’s army, though my dad swears that war messed with his father's head and make him crazy. My dad, said “He used to make his own wine in Italy, and he ran a farm with Grandma which was hard labor.” He also added, “when I was younger I hated him, because he was the one standing at the door at 10 pm every night making sure I was home. But he was the man who got me here today, and I can only thank him for that." Understanding that my Grandparents had to adapt to a whole new environment and learned to thrive and watching that same drive in my dad and hopefully comes down to me, that would be a direct trait from my family.
My mom’s side of the family gives a more quiet approach to things. It’s always been known that my mom’s side is the more “chill” side. As a young woman, my Grandma came to America with hopes of a new life, but she never got the full experience because of her lack of English. She worked every day for forty plus years and never said a word about it. Spending years not being updated on how the world is changing, and the financial responsibilities of the modern world, my Grandma never really had a place in the US, and she says she still doesn’t feel comfortable now. I asked my Mom a couple questions about how she grew up and she responded with, “When I was younger I had to work and watch out for myself, having a single working mother and no technology, she wasn’t there to baby me." And my Mom would describe her American Creed as being a Greek-American who was lucky enough that her parents gave her the opportunity at the American Dream, which she feels she has achieved. These experiences that my past family has lived through create the people that they are and the traits they pass down from generation to generation.
My American Creed stems back through many generations and is ingrained in me, but the person that I would be if I lived in Astoria like my parents, is very different than the one I am because of where I live now. Growing up, it became normal for kids like me to expect to always be taken care of, this influenced me but the way my dad has parented me has changed the narrative. Thinking about it, my family's impact on who I am whether I like it or not is part of my American Creed and the place I live is going to be part of my American Creed that I will carry in life. My final claim is, The experiences in my life and my families presence create my true American Creed.