June 15, 2013
Everybody has values, ideas, things, or practices that are important to them. To prepare for this essay I talked to members of my family about what have been important values to them and family members that came before them. I am especially lucky that I have a lot of family to interview. I came up with seven values that are important to my family.
Both my sister and I feel that bettering the world (Tee-koon o-lahm) and Charity (Tz-dah-kah) are important family values. Marcela’s parents, Silvio and Marta, fought against the dictatorship in Argentina and became doctors because they wanted to help people. Grandpa Mark, my dad’s father, donates money to charities every year. Grandpa Mark often wants us to donate money in his name, rather than giving him a present. For a while, we had a Tz-dah-kah box in our kitchen. We would put loose change into it and then donate the money when it got full. Grandpa Mark also volunteers in a fourth grade class at a school in a poor neighborhood, and is working to restore a prairie near his house. Also, Grandma Janet, my mom’s mother, lived on and studied an island called Futuna and wrote their first dictionary. Oma, my mom’s other mother, worked for women’s rights in Africa. My dad worked as a union organizer for a long time to increase the power that working class people have in our country. He also did a lot of work in high school and college to keep the United States government from attacking countries in Central America and to help those countries develop fairer societies. My cousin twice removed, Thomas Hirsch, is a leader in working to make Chile a fairer society. In my family, it is taught that you think about others, along with yourself.
Another family value I have is education (Chee-nuch.) It is a value of all of my family. All eight of my grandparents and four of my great- grandparents have been teachers, writers, or done other things with books and higher education. My dad is a bookseller and Marcela is an art teacher. Because they have been around education their whole lives, this is important to them. Education was also important as shown by the fact that 3 of my great- grandparents got PhDs and one got a Masters. They came from poor or rural families, so they wanted to achieve what their family hadn’t been able to before and be part of modern society by being educated. These family members are Grandpa Mark’s dad, his mom, and Abuelita’s mom and dad. Grandma Janet’s dad also had a PhD. There were jobs available for people who got these advanced degrees, such as art teacher (Helen Wyman and Marcela), professor or university teacher (all grandparents, my mom, and three great-grandparents), and scientist (Grandma Janet’s dad). This work gave them all interesting, stable lives. Education is one of my values too.
Music (Moo-see-ka) is also a big part of our family life, especially for Grandpa Mark and my dad. Grandpa Mark plays the banjo and my dad plays guitar. My dad was in a singing group for the congregation. Before that, he was in a chorus. In high school, he wrote songs and performed in a punk band. He idolizes Pete Seeger and my middle name is after him. My mom also loved listening to music, especially 60s, rhythm and blues, and African music she learned as a child.
My mom, dad, Oma, Opa, and Grandpa Mark like songs about change that needs to be made in the world, like labor songs and folk music. Papa was the drum major in college and was going to become a music teacher, but became an archeologist instead. As an adult, he loved collecting jazz records. When my dad and Grandpa Mark perform, they like teaching people songs and being in the spotlight in front of a crowd.
Friendship (Cha-vey-root) is another value important to my family. Everyone in my family values friendship a lot and are very friendly. Grandpa Mark is friendly; when he meets someone new he always shakes their hand. Grandma Janet is also very outgoing and positive. My mother was also very friendly. In high school she was friends with people from different cliques and races. My uncle John was elected prom king in high school for a lot of the same reasons. He was able to be friends with a lot of different people. Oma has friends who live in Africa, Europe, and the United States. She is still friendly with people she met a long time ago, like her college roommate. Friendship is one of my values too.
Art, or oh-mah-noot, and creativity, Y’tzeer-ah-tee-oot are important values in our family that both Yelena and I noticed. Marcela is an art teacher at a high school. She does a lot of sketching and drawing. She is also a great painter. A while ago, when my cousins came over, she helped us decorate boxes with paint. Her boxes turned out very well. Marcela’s mother is a photographer and writes poetry. Grandma Janet, my mom’s mom, is always making things, and last time I went to visit her she taught us and my cousin Delanie how to do embroidery. Once my cousin Leila gets older, she probably will do the same things with her. I think she does this so that creativity will stay in the family through the generations.
Papa is creative as a silversmith and blacksmith. He made his mailbox. He made historic reproduction tools for movies and historic reenactments. Grandpa Mark’s uncle, Harold Bryant, was a well-known western painter. His sister, my great grandmother, was an artist, art teacher, and illustrator. Creativity and art play a big role in our family.
These values give you a picture of the family I come from and what is important to them. Some of these values are mine, some are not, and like all people, my values will probably change throughout my life.