For example a similar experience that you can conflict on a real person life
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Jim is experiencing the loss of both of his parents and a move to a new place. His grandparents are wonderful people and treat him with love and kindness. An example of "personal experience" would be to compare and contrast what he's going through to a child today being almost solely raised by a grandparent or grandparents due to the break-up of a family. Personal experiences could include divorce, a child not seeing very much of the non-custodial parent, and the fact that the custodial parent may be forced take less of a hands on approach to raising their child due to their responsibility of financially supporting the family.
Another example of personal experience can come from the friendship between Jim and Antonia. They are both "new" in the neighborhood. Jim needed a friend and felt loneliness because of the loss of his parents; Antonia found herself in a new place and unable to communicate because English was not her native language. In the school where I teach, we consistently have students move into the neighborhood that speak very little or no English at all. Other students become their friends and mentors; bonds are established.
Both of these situations will work for the connections you need, and if they don't, they may have given you ideas for something you can relate to. Good Luck!