Photo Album

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
This is a photo album from Slovakia.
This is a photo album from Slovakia.

One of the few things that my mother brought with her on her journey from her native Slovakia to the United States is this photo album. In 1997, at 30 years old, my mother finally made the decision to pursue her lifelong dream of moving to America, leaving everything and everyone she has ever known behind. This photo album, which contains the memories of my mother’s childhood and adolescence, is an expression of her most treasured recollections. In a profound way, it has served the purpose of reminding her of her true identity regardless of where she resided. My mother was adamant about always remembering who she is and the place from which she came. When she had a child (me) three years later, she felt obligated to pass down all that her heritage entails. It is safe to say that the photo album has played a crucial role in my upbringing. This photo album was a significant reason for my mother’s decision to teach me Slovak in addition to English, expose me to Slovak traditions and bring me on frequent trips to Slovakia. Stemming from this, for me, this album is not only a collection of old photos; it is a symbol of my identity as well. As I make my way through each photo, I recognize my mother, the village she grew up in, her side of the family and family friends. In this recognition, I find belonging. Even though it has initially acted as a solidifier of my mother’s own identity, this picture book has also shaped my identity as a Slovak-American.

Place(s): Slovakia, New York
Year: 1997

– Emma Schoppmeyer

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant