Heritage Living

Free Response Question

Live musicians yell into their mics while the crowd jumps and sings along to their music. I’m out of breath, my chest hurts, and I know my voice will be gone, but I’ve accepted it. An older man stands up on one of the picnic tables, dancing and shouting along, soon joined by a college kid and an older woman. Those who are too cold are sitting in camping chairs around a fire raging inside the mass of pulsating bodies. This is my safe haven, a place where I can be myself and not worry about being judged.

These people all around me don’t know me by name, they don’t know what my life is like, they don’t know a single thing about me. Same with me; I don’t know them as anyone but people who I see a couple times a year. That’s the beauty of Russian festivals such as Jet Lag, Pereplot, and KSP. They gave me a second home, a place I can return to and know that everything will be a mirror image of last year, that I’ll be accepted and understood.

Growing up, I never really felt accepted anywhere. All of my friends were stereotypically American and I struggled to relate to them, being the child of Russian immigrants. We did not experience the same home life and it seemed as though their knowledge was limited to what they learned in school,...

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