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DAPHNE CONSTANTINIDES, 18

Daphne Constantinides is a freshman at the University of Cincinnati studying biochemistry and creative writing. She is the first-generation daughter of Filipino and Greek immigrants. The intersection of these two cultures is something that gives Constantinides great pride, though she says sometimes the clash of Filipino and Greek cultures is confusing, particularly because she only speaks English.

First exposed to creative writing in high school, Constantinides describes herself primarily as a spoken word poet but applies poetic observations of the human experience and interconnectivity of the world to her short stories and essays. Though in the past Constantinides was a very impulsive and erratic writer, she has honed her writing practice so that she now writes every day and revises her own work until she is satisfied. When researching her senior paper, Constantinides discovered that cultural identity crises are recognized as having negative psychological effects on first-generation Americans. She says cultural identity crises are very much under the radar and hopes that more teens are given a platform to discuss, explore, and tell their stories. Her work has been published in her school’s literary magazine, and several anthologies published by Cincinnati’s Women Writing for (a) Change. Constantinides has been nominated twice for the Cincinnati Overture Awards, a city-wide arts competition for high school-aged students.

As a child, Constantinides’s mother always cautioned her about the glass ceiling found in most professional worlds, and as an immigrant and woman of color, she felt she had three strikes against her. She encourages empathy and open-mindedness when arguing the importance of equity, and is careful to acknowledge that comprehending and experiencing others’ adversities is almost impossible. Constantinides believes the root of much of the world’s strife is due to the lack of civil discussions as many individuals get too attached to the noise surrounding the topic or take things too personally to actually hear what their opponent is saying.

 

Sour Cherries

by Daphne Constantinides

Eat yogurt with a teaspoon of honey every morning; eat boiled potatoes with salt and olive oil for lunch; always raise your point during an argument, never your voice; sweating is good, that’s why so many people in this country are fat; don’t get fat; play soccer to not get fat; you can eat whatever you want, as long as you play soccer for at least an hour every day; be one chapter ahead in chemistry; you are an orthodox Greek Christian, but you are not sure if you believe in God; believe more in hell than God; you can eat whatever you want, as long as you go running for at least an hour every day; remember to be a tiger on the soccer field; do good in school; don’t take Latin; do well in school; say “Chloe and I,” not “Chloe and me”; this is how you make a proper salad: mix chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, feta cubes, chopped onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano; never put lettuce in your Greek salad, they raised you not to be that American; baba, I don’t like olives; if you don’t turn in your homework assignments, they will beat you black and blue; the Romans were just jealous of the Greeks; put milk and sugar in your tea to be more European; do not cry on the soccer field; do not baby yourself, that’s what the Americans do; never get a tattoo; you’ll look like a skank; there are many good Greek words – asphyxiation, arachnophobia, philanthropy, etc.; study your Latin enough, not a lot; Filipinos are always loud; Greeks are not loud, they just like arguing; if you want to be an anthropologist, you have to be in the top ten percent; you would be a good lawyer; if you want to be a writer, you have to be in the top five percent; when you’re 30 and out of law school, work on patents with me; baba, I don’t know what I want to be; always eat cheese after dessert; never use “I love you” too loosely, Americans like babying each other; if you fail assignments in college, I will beat you black and blue; red snapper is the only fish you eat in the summer; date more boys; never pierce your ears, you will look like a skank; this is what you will say if your yia yia Skypes, she wishes I taught you Greek; never say “I love you” to me; remember that you are too Greek to be American; remember that you are too American to be Greek; remember I love you, but only just enough; if you want, you can put sour cherries in your yogurt this morning, but only just enough.