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I was born on April 3, 1984 in Zagreb, Croatia. We lived on the 10th floor until I reached age eight. One of my first memories is deciding to walk down and up the stairs and I wanted to do it alone. It intrigued me to look at and read what is written on the walls, find things like crumpled pieces of paper on the floor or threads from someone’s shirt or pocket. I do not think I made up stories of their lives, as much as I focused on the emotion and the moment.

And then: the war.

I didn’t experience much except not going to school and hearing bombs in the far distance. At that time, everything got quieter than usual, as the beginning of the war usually seems, because all of the sudden, you notice everything you never noticed before. Then, it gets too loud. That was when we left for Germany (1994).

In Germany I refused to speak for almost a year as I felt that I lost my language. I spent my time in the woods thinking about the house we live in and how it helped a Jewish family survive the Holocaust. This felt more interesting to me than sitting in the classroom.

And then: the “end” of the war.

We had to leave. So we came to Canada. I lost my language again. I was almost happy. I guess finally I arrived at that universal language I wished to learn as this is the only language I can never lose: compassion.