It’s all Relative

My grandfather escaped Nazi Germany in 1939 for the Philippines where his family, along with 1,000 other Jews, were offered refuge by then-President Quezon. In Germany, despite being chased home by Nazi youth, my grandpa had attended 1st and 2nd grade. He took a bit of a schooling hiatus as he made his way to Manila (how lazy!) where he picked back up in another language somewhere around 3rd or 4th grade at a Catholic school. But his education was again derailed with the Japanese invasion of Manila. To keep learning he studied his father’s medical textbooks in the evenings. For a brief time before the American invasion at the end of the war, he was back in school. But not for long. Fleeing the violence in his village, his family took to the jungle, living primitively; survival, not learning, was the priority. Emerging from the jungle my grandpa was bar mitzvah-ed and started and graduated from high school in the Philippines before crossing the ocean once again to Boston where he studied engineering at MIT. When I get too caught up in the impact of this pandemic on my kids, my grandpa’s story reminds me that these are small potatoes (which, by the way, he still won’t eat to this day after surviving on them in the jungle)…

My great-grandfather did everything he could to prepare his family for life in the Philippines. On the journey there my grandpa studied and learned Spanish since their encyclopedia, published in 1897, listed the islands as a Spanish colony. It wasn’t until they reached Hong Kong (a week before their arrival in Manila) that my great grandparents learned that English had been the official language of the Philippines since the Spanish American War of 1898 – the year AFTER their encyclopedia was printed. To this I say huzzah for Wikipedia! Keeping kids from learning unnecessary languages since 2001.

Published by imworriedmytherapisthatesme

I'm a history-PhD-turned-stay-at-home-mom of three. When I'm not microwaving Trader Joe's meals for my kids, breaking up fights and wiping butts, I like to paint and write. To cope with the endless hours I'm spending with my son doing virtual school, I've abandoned my gouache paints for the more portable, less messy tried but true, paper and ink. While he learns to read to 20 floating heads on his screen, I sit on a tiny chair, at a tiny table pretending to be a productive adult.

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