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Welcome to our blog. We document American families and their journeys. 

That Litte Girl Would Be Me

That Litte Girl Would Be Me

I’d like them [my daughters] to understand that other people might have hardship, and not judge people by looking at them. Try to think that there is a story behind everything, the same way that there is a story behind an object.
— Adina
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The Subjects

Adina was born in the northern mountain region of Romania. Her parents, Elena and Radu, were the first in their families to leave their village of Fratautii-Vechi and attend trade schools in a town four hours away. When Adina graduated high school Romania was, by her account, rampant with corruption. Although college was free for those who were accepted, most paid bribes to reserve their spots at universities. Adina wanted to continue her studies but did not want to burden her family with the cost of a bribe. Her boyfriend, Neculai, encouraged her to apply for a Diversity Visa to the United States, which was granted by lottery. Adina applied and, to her surprise, made it to the next round where she spent one year taking tests and submitting medical examinations. When she was finally awarded her Diversity Visa, Adina was hesitant to leave her family behind in Romania but did not want to the lose the opportunity. She and Neculai married, then travelled to Chicago and found Neculai’s great uncle, a man neither had met in person but who gave them their first home in the United States. After two weeks in America, Adina found work as a babysitter. After three years, Adina was accepted into college. She worked as a nanny, a housekeeper, and an office clerk to pay for her education. In 2008 she got a degree in finance. When she was pregnant with her first child, Adina’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. She died in Romania a few months after Adina's daughter was born. Adina continues to live in Chicago with Neculai, where she works as an accountant. They have two daughters: Nicole (13) and Ilinca (5).

The Objects

The Embroidered Blouses

I brought couple of…blouses that my grandma and my mother made…I’ve never met my grandmother because she died very young—my mother was eighteen when she died—and I always wanted to meet her. And by being able to hold the shirt that she handmade for my mom, it’s kind of making me feel like, strangely, I met her somehow. These are two things that are very important for me to have and to be able to…look at and hold now. Unfortunately my mom passed away as well…I was pregnant with my daughter when she found out she had cancer, so she lived only a couple of months after my daughter was born. And she died.”
[Adina pauses, weeps]
“It was just me and my husband and the kids here [in the USA]. That’s the hardest part of living in the States without the extended family, because not only do I not get to see them, but then my kids are growing without cousins and uncles and…[weeps.] I’m sorry.
— Adina
 Adina's daughter, Ilinca (5), wears the same embroidered shirt as her grandmother (Adina's mother) in the photo she holds. 

Adina's daughter, Ilinca (5), wears the same embroidered shirt as her grandmother (Adina's mother) in the photo she holds. 

…older people would wear the same type of shirt with less decoration on them… I remember my grandma on my father’s side…wearing them every single day. And…on Sunday she would have a nicer one, that had more decoration on it, to go to church…
— Adina

The Scarves

…one of them [the scarves]…my mother wore at her wedding day. It’s the biggest one. I think it’s the red one with big flowers.
— Adina
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…there’s a couple that I used to wear as a child and my mom saved them. And there’s some that my mom used to wear as a child that she saved them.
— Adina

The Photographs

Photograph of a woman with her hair up:

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I had a picture of my mom wearing the blouse that her mother made. That is my mom wearing the same blouse that Ilinca wears.
— Adina

Photograph of little girl in scarf:

That little girl would be me! I remember [taking] one of them [the photographs]. Just because we were made to sit still and not move, and so I remember that because I wanted to run and play! I didn’t want to stay still and take the picture.
— Adina

The Questions

1) What would you ask the owners of these objects, if you could speak to them today?

Oh, I would have so many [questions]. With my grandmother I always wanted to ask her how my mother used to be as a child. I don’t know why I have that question in my mind all the time. And I…wish I could speak with my grandmother and ask her those questions. I always talked to my other grandmother about my father, and she would tell stories about childhood and how he would misbehave, and what she would do when he would misbehave. And I was fascinated hearing those stories…. And they all lived through a lot of hardship. They lived through wars, and the hardship that wars bring. And I spoke a lot with my grandfather on my father’s side about all of that, but never with the side of my mom. So those are questions that I would love to ask them: how was it like then?
And then, with my mom, [sighs] there’s so many things I would love to ask her now, especially now that I have my own kids…there would be things she would tell me and I would not understand as a kid. But now that I have my own kids I’m like: Oh my God! I know why my mom would say that! So I would love to tell her: Now I know. Now I get it
— Adina
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2) What lessons or ideas do these objects communicate that you hope your children will carry through their lives? 

I would like them [her daughters] to be able to look at people and not judge them…I keep telling them to not take things for granted and be very grateful for what they have now. Because…I know how things can be. And I feel that sometimes my kids, because they lived here all of their lives, they didn’t have the hardships that are going on in other countries. So I’d like them to understand that other people might have hardship, and not judge people by looking at them. Try to think that there is a story behind everything, the same way that there is a story behind an object.
— Adina
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