“There are not many of us, but we exist.”
When people ask me to sum up my identity in one phrase, I never hesitate to drop the C-word. That’s right, I am Croatian. My family is from the small Balkan country located next to the Adriatic Sea. Although the country is geographically the size of West Virginia and has a population of 4 million, we have a very strong culture and identity. When asked to describe Croatia, most will say “There are not many of us, but we exist.” My maternal grandparents came to the United States from Croatia in the 1950s in order to escape the growing influence of communism, as well as the imminent threat of civil war in Yugoslavia. Once arriving to the United States, however, they discovered that life was not much easier.
My grandfather worked in a meatpacking plant for over 30 years, where he inspected and graded the quality of beef. My grandmother worked to sell insurance for American Family. While they were working near-minimum wage jobs, they would watch wealthy people on the television who seemed to be doing nothing. Thus, they worked harder to provide for their children. As I grew up, I was surrounded by people who were familiar with the culture of Croatia. Naturally, I was interested. I began to read into the history and learn more about the culture, and I realized why it is so difficult to make life work as an immigrant to the United States.
Although I have lived in the United States all my life, I identify strongly with the culture of Croatia. I am an American by all means, but I enjoy being in the niche culture of Croatia. My closet is filled with Croatian soccer jerseys, my wall has a Croatian flag hanging up on it. I work to honor my family and the effort that they displayed by coming to the United States with no more than $5 in their pocket and very little knowledge of English. By embracing my Croatian culture, I feel that I can work to expand our influence in the United States. Many people are not aware of the impact of Croatia in the society of the United States. I empathize with the common proverb that serves as the title of this blog post. An individual can make a large impact in the world. Just as Croatia holds a small piece in the worlds population and works to play a large role, I will do my best as an individual to make a difference in the world. There are not many of us, but we exist. I truly believe that this is an expression to live by, and I will work to make an impact in this world.