My grandmother is most representative of my cultural identity. I chose a tattoo that is on the right side of my face as the artifact I want to share with my classmates. My grandmother had very similar tattoos, although hers were between her forehead, by her chin, and on each side of her eyes. My grandmother is Kurdish, and was raised in Aqrah, Iraq, right by the Turkish border. When she turned 18, she got the tattoos. Dots on the face and hands represent a woman’s coming of age in Kurdish culture, and are a symbol of womanhood and a recognition of the specific struggles that women in Kurdish culture face. No one after my grandmother got the tattoo, not my mother or her sister, and none of my 34 girl cousins. It bothered me. I came to the U.S. last year for university; in fact, I am the first in my family to come to America ever. I am the start of the story of my family in the U.S. For a while I felt distant from home, and I didn’t know exactly what to do to try to feel better about my separation from my mother, my home, and my culture. My grandmother’s presence was always a big part of my life, until she passed away a few years ago. One evening I decided to get the tattoo. I had just turned 19. I now carry a two-century old tradition on my body, in its purest form. I have brought my culture to the U.S., as millions of others have when they emigrated here. I am the first of my family here, and its my duty to introduce my cultural identity to society here. I take pride in that.
– Yasmin Kriechbaum