Today we are Crossing Identities with Ethan from Los Angeles. Ethan goes to New Roads School since about 7th grade. New Roads School is a progressive private school. The owner of New Roads School opened that school with the intent of creating a private school that serves high as well as low income classes and students from all backgrounds. When I crossed the campus, the students couldn’t be more colourful. During my interviews all students where especially aware of the unique environment that they where schooled in. They unanimously where exceedingly positive about that environment they where schooled in. Ethan expressed to the point, when he said, that going to New Roads School, made him realize that we are truly all the same people, no matter what social class or background we come from. As if it where a means towards freedom.

Photo: Semra Sevin, "Crossing Identities"

Photo: Semra Sevin, “Crossing Identities”

Before Ethan went to this school, he would be surrounded by all his childhood friends who went to school with him, which are predominantly Persian. Ethan is born to a family that had to leave their home country. It manifested in my interviews that parents who left their home country by force, became nostalgic about their lost life and where recreating it in every aspect of their lives in order to feel at home far away from home. That included the education of their children. It was of importance that their children would be immersed in their home countries customs and stayed within the circles exercising those customs. The more religion played a role in the parent’s lives, the more it became a denominator in choosing their social circles accordingly. The more people where persecuted for their religion, it seemed to become even more important to their identity, as a result.

Photo: Semra Sevin, "Crossing Identities"

Photo: Semra Sevin, “Crossing Identities”

Ethan’s biggest hero is his great great uncle who helped persecuted people to flee to safety. While that great great uncle helped countless people to be sheltered and to escape their persecution, he himself stayed, until he was executed. He kept on saving lives until the last moments of his life. That story of bravery, selflessness and feeling of responsibility for others, marked Ethan. He will feel responsible for his immediate surrounding and his family. He will constantly aim to do the right thing, to make sure they are safe and to protect them.

Photo: Semra Sevin, "Crossing Identities"

Photo: Semra Sevin, “Crossing Identities”

To Ethan every part of America is different from each other. The East Coast from the West Coast and the other states. When I speak to Europeans, they tend to generalize the worst of America and apply it to all the states. Forgetting, that the size of America and Europe are about the same and that each country in Europe has its own characteristics, like the states in America.

As adults we have great responsibility and influence towards following generations. Looking at the hero of Ethan, we are advised to lead with positive example in order to form the next generation with great values. As well as schools, work and universities like New Roads School lead with extraordinary example for an equal society. Everything we do, counts for the future. Which to me is a scary feeling and a great feeling at the same time! Looking at Ethan’s great great uncle, selflessness seems to be one of the keys of becoming a positive example.

Crossing Identities was kindly sponsored by the Berlin Senate for the 50y jubilee of the partner cities Los Angeles and Berlin in 2017.

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