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On my first day as a graduate social work student the Power Privilege and Oppression in Society Implications for Social Work Practice professor asked the students to respond to the following question Who am I My classmates and I were asked this questions several times This exercise was used to show that people are multifaceted beings Aristotle once wrote the whole is greater than the sum of its parts Culturally I identify myself as Russian-Jewish I am also a first-generation American I am plus-size woman and I am a recovering substance abuser All of these things are a part of me and make me who I am Originally I was born in Minsk Belarus and immigrated to this country when I was two years old Like most other immigrants my parents left the former Soviet Union in search of a better life We also left because of our religious affiliation In Russia Belarus Ukraine and other soviet countries Anti-Semitism was institutionalized and Jewish was considered a nationality not a religion a concept that I have found hard for many Americans to grasp In fact Soviet passports specified whether you are Jewish It was very difficult for anyone who is Jewish to be accepted into certain educational institutions and there was limited job opportunity My parents were discriminated against their entire lives Their religious affiliation was suppressed and they could not express pride in My mother told me she grew up feeling embarrassed to be Jewish and was often teased throughout her childhood because of her stereotypical large nose and curly hair As a result my parents instilled a strong sense of pride in my Jewish heritage I was taught to believe that Jews are the most intelligent and creative people in the world I am glad that my parents taught me to be proud of who I am but sometimes I wonder if this ethnocentric view has done a disservice to me as well Sometimes
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