We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofKristjan Papa

I was nine or ten years old in the urban and majestic city of Athens, Greece. I wished that one day I’d get the opportunity to work at a restaurant; that was my dream. I spent every day watching my mom  cook, and I wanted to be just like her. The idea of working at my own personal restaurant made me feel even happier.  My grandparents and my family told me that they had a big surprise for me. The surprise was the grand opening of a family restaurant in Athens. It was meant to be a gift for me, to fulfill my dream. I named it Greek Paradise, because the restaurant was my version of paradise. As soon as we opened, there were massive groups of people gathering to come in. I heard the voices yelling and banging on the door shouting, “We’re hungry, let us in!” That was good news for us, and our new business was going to be a success. It also gave me pride and a sense of purpose. The exterior view and the atmosphere were both exquisite and very inviting to come in and enjoy the authentic Greek food. Furthermore, for special events and for weekends, the restaurant provided folkloric music that warmed the guests’ hearts and made them feel at home. Also, we had a dancing room with a DJ we hired to play music for the guests. The interior view was surprisingly spacious and colorful, which made the restaurant unique. The food there was, without a doubt, delectable. Our business was going great! Everyone liked our restaurant and our service. Soon it became well-known. So then our family had a conversation about whether we should extend our daily hours, since we were having more customers each day, and our restaurant’s business had increased gradually.  The memories that I made in Athens will remain with me forever. When I close my eyes, I can still hear the big crowds, I smell the spanakopita cook- ing in the oven, and I see the smiles on people’s faces. However, when I open my eyes and realize that I am thousands of miles away, I am sad. A year after the restaurant opened, we moved to the United States. However, I know that my family is taking care of the business. The restaurant was built in my honor five to six years ago, and it started a great and a long lasting business. When I told my friends the fantastic news, they arrived at my restaurant as soon as possible. I felt happy and proud because it would show that I am a caring and willing person who always helps my family when in need, and I also felt a bit stressed because I wanted to prove to them that I am a positive person that perseveres no matter what the challenge. Even as hard and difficult as the job was for me, I would just grit my teeth and keep trying and trying to succeed in that challenge.  Before the restaurant opened, I was a young child who always wanted more and more. I didn’t understand hard work, or what my family had done to provide me with the things I had. I believe that this lesson should be taught to everyone, so that they can have a better lifestyle.  Another way I changed is that I now show gratitude to family and relatives for what they have done to help me be the best person I can be. People might think at first that working is hard, but it can be fun too. People instead should think that working is fun and delightful; it’s not just a place where you get tired all the time. You should enjoy it instead. 

© Kristjan Papa. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.