Filled with self-reflection and strength, grade 11 student Daria R. has faced challenges that allowed her to grow from her experiences. Reflecting, she talks about her biggest accomplishment, how she’s matured through her experiences, and the important role her mother has played in her life.

What follows is Daria’s story, in her own words:

“To be honest, my biggest accomplishment is being where I am now: emotionally mature enough to understand a lot of things. And I feel like my past has influenced that a lot. Because I’ve moved from country to country and school to school, I got to meet very different people with different backgrounds, nationalities, levels of education, and such. And I can’t say I had a very good experience with them, obviously, because we were younger, but also because I realized that my morals and values were not very developed. And I didn’t understand how doing something that meant very little to me may impact them on a bigger scale. 

Being superficial to me means seeing situations on a surface level and not thinking about what could’ve been done for a situation to have a better or different outcome. For example, with school, I didn’t put enough effort into completing my homework or studying for tests because I thought that it didn’t matter at the time, since I would do better on the next one. But then it got to a point where my effort in school was just zero, and my parents sat me down and had a talk with me. Since then I feel like I changed a lot after understanding that I was being very superficial and just taking everything for granted.

Definitely my mom [has been] my biggest role model and the person who shaped my life. Because she moved when I was very little, I’ve only lived with her for a total of four years of my 16 years of being alive on this planet. My mom works as a protection officer for UNHCR which is a [United Nations non-governmental organization] and currently works in Iran. My mom has lived in the Middle East before, in countries such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan; however, it was very easy for us to continue communicating [by phone] and not so much time, unfortunately. But we still text a lot and I find her to be one of my best friends and my mentors. Her parenting style is a very modern one and I’m not afraid to tell her that I got a bad grade and such. She would never get mad at me, and, instead of telling me ‘Do better’ or ‘It’s okay, you will do better next time,’ she provided me with meaningful help, which personally is a better way to help your child instead of traditional ways.”