Aegean to Appleton: An Open Letter to my Parents

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By Savvas Sfairopoulos

In what was the middle of the night for you, I called you on the phone yesterday. You did not hang up and you did not complain about me waking you up. You were worried.

Some say that love is a contact sport, but that has never been the case with you. As my parents and guardians, you have stood by my side throughout all the hardships that I have been through, and always managed to point me towards the light when I found myself wandering aimlessly in the dark.

Getting to spend some time with you during Winter Break made me reach an epiphany: it is hard to think about how much someone means to you when you are so used to them being there.

As a teen, I strived to be perceived as a rebel: going against the status quo, demonstrating extreme risk-taking practices and always talking back to my teachers at school. What I failed to realize at the time, however, was that you were the ones who would get in trouble for my childish behavior. It was you who would have to be confronted by my furious teachers about my missing assignments, my unbecoming attitude and my general lack of motivation.

Despite all the hardships you had to get through because of me, however, you always managed to point me in the right direction. You confronted me about my wrongdoings and made me understand that I ought to take responsibility for my actions. What caught me by surprise at the time was that you never pushed me to pursue a college degree. Heck, you did not even push me to get a high school diploma!

You always stressed that the choices I make will impact my life and that you will not always be around to shelter me from whatever tremendous consequence I may have to face. That kind of mindset, combined with the general ability to think critically that you helped me develop over the past 18 years, had a profound effect on me when I arrived at Lawrence.

Going from a C+ to an A is a long way up, especially if a high school-to-college transition is involved in between. Nevertheless, coming to Lawrence and realizing that I was now on my own encouraged me to take your teachings to heart and apply myself to the greatest extent of my abilities. I would not dare claim, however, that I am an independent man. That would be quite silly of me — when your parents are paying for every second of your existence, you cannot, by definition, be independent.

After the first few months I got to spend here, my mind became fixated on one thing: total victory. Yes, it does sound extremely egotistic, and it is to a certain extent, yet I feel that this is the only way for me to honor you. I highly appreciate the fact that, despite the abysmal financial situation in Greece, you still decided to take the huge risk of sending me to the U.S. for my studies.

Furthermore, I am still amazed by the overwhelming amount of courage that you displayed by placing your trust in someone like me—someone who, in the past two years, seemed to be utterly unmotivated and unwilling to work hard to achieve the goals he had set forth. For all that you have already done and continue to do for me, I wish to thank you wholeheartedly.

I cannot predict what the future may bring our way. The distance that currently separates us is most definitely a tremendous problem. I do not get to see my brother grow, and I will most probably not get to say farewell to the elder members of our family. Yet, I am convinced that, whatever happens, you will always be there for me. I will always love you, even from afar.

Postscript to my fellow students:

I sincerely hope that many other fellow Lawrentians will find themselves going through a similar situation. Especially for us freshmen, beginning the transition to solo life can be quite hectic. I sincerely hope you get to surround yourselves with people who care about you and people you can call your family.