Thanks to the children who submitted essays-- we enjoyed reading all of them! Here are the winning essays.
My Great-Great-Grandfather by Laura Forrest, 6 years old
"My Great Great Grandfather, Neils Tobiasson came to America by boat when he was six years old from Iceland. I am six, too." 💜
The Journey by Alyssa Forrest, 9 years old
|Victoria & Neils Tobiasson|
|Alyssa (left), and Laura|
The grand-prize winning essay was submitted by Nina Grace Thomas. Congratulations, Nina!
My Appachen's Voyage to the United States by Nina Grace Thomas, 9 years old
|1962 Ford Galaxy|
|My Appachen and I,|
Dr. T.M. Thomas and Nina Thomas
As his year came to an end, money was very tight and my Appachen did not have enough to return home, where my Ammachi (grandmother) and my dad’s brother were. Appachen had spent all of his savings, three hundred dollars, on a used 1962 Ford Galaxy. Luckily, there was an opening for a security guard and he was able to take this job. This position allowed him to earn enough to live off of but not enough to travel back home. Fortunately, in 1965, the United States immigration laws changed, allowing more Asians to travel to America instead of just Europeans. So, in 1965, my Ammachi and his five-year-old son (my uncle), moved to the United States to join Appachen.
MY UNCLE’S NAME
My uncle’s name was T.T. Matthews. My Appachen’s name is T.M. Thomas. In India, the naming system is different. For example, my Appachen’s name is T.M. Thomas and his brother’s name is T.M. Philip. In India, using this method, you can’t tell if two people are related using their last name but instead, by their first two initials. In this case, the T.M. stands for Thanikapurttatu (their house name) and Mathai, my valiya-Appachen’s (great grandfather’s) name.
Once my uncle was in the United States, the people working at the airport didn’t think that it made sense that my Appachen and his son did not have the same last name. The workers wouldn’t allow my uncle on the plane unless he changed his last name. So, he did. From then on, he was (and still is) known as Matthews Thomas. My father is Daniel Thomas and I am Nina Thomas (now we follow the American way of naming).
I hope that you enjoyed reading the short version of my Appachen’s voyage to the United States and how it has led me to writing this essay. If you would like to read more, read his most recent book, Joyful Vocation of a Teacher. Thank you! 😀
|Nina Grace with her winning essay|
This post originally appeared on the Olney branch blog.