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Giving voice to displaced children and young people.

At a very young age, my life changed. When I was 3, I moved to Florence, Italy because my parents wanted me to be bilingual, and that wasn’t the only benefit I gained from living in Italy.  For 6 years I thrived there. I made friends, I loved my school and my house, I learned a new language, and most of all, I loved the environment. But when I turned nine, the only life I knew disappeared. My teachers told me, “We are going to have a one-week break because there's a little virus spreading.” The virus was anything but little. We decided to go to New York for that one week but my father didn’t come, and just that simple decision had led me to not get to see my dad for 2 years. A figure that had been present my entire life, was gone. I was stuck in New York from the beginning of age nine to the end of age ten. Within that time period my parents decided to break the news to me and my sister that they were getting a divorce. I remember my mom calling my dad over zoom and telling us that no matter what, it was all going to be ok. Tears stung my eyes, and all I could think was, it's NOT going to be ok! At age 10 and 11 I started to go to school in New York. I felt like I didn't belong. Relationships had already been made, and everyone was a part of a group but me. Each person was wearing a mask and we were all separated into little pods, so I was only allowed to socialize with 8 people. I felt so alone. Finally, one day, I met this girl at a park. We immediately clicked and I felt like I could talk to her about anything. She was there for me when I needed her and I was there for her when she needed me. We started to spend more time together, and soon became inseparable. At 12 years old, I am still best friends with her and I have never felt more connected and comfortable with someone. I feel less like I'm some kind of stranger at school, and more like I belong. There are still some concepts that I find hard to accept, but, deep down, I know that there's nothing I can do to change the fact that they are real and eventually I will have to find peace with them.

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