Daphne Constantinides, 17
Daphne Constantinides is a high school senior in Wyoming, Ohio, and 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.
Constantinides will attend University of Cincinnati in the fall and is excited to explore the liberal arts as well as medicine.
The Future Filipino Housewife
By Daphne Constantinides
The muscles around his collarbone were distinct. She stared at his chest as he looked down on her. His had would gently grip the small of her waist, her hand would rest on the bulk of his shoulder. He tried to lead, awkwardly looking down at his feet trying to navigate through his dance and culture, but she kept staring at his cumbersome collarbone. His tendons stuck up like they wanted to be noticed. He was built like a bodybuilder, not a folk dancer. Nonetheless, there were moments where she felt he belonged to this kind of dance, even moments where she belonged in his arms. The times he pulled her in for a parting embrace, she felt absorbed, almost trapped, in his chest. There, she became lost in his unlikely stature like all the other girls he’s held.
While she was lost in his chest, he was lost in her eyes. They tried to distract themselves from the slamming bamboo sticks at their feet. Look up and smile. You will have some control over the chaos that way. It was what her mother told them to do; she danced the same way when she was fifteen or so. But then again, her mother ended up with a European, not a Filipino.
He threw himself into his religion as hard as he threw himself into the tinikling sticks. He tried to get lost in the idea of God. The same God her dad never commented on. The same God her mother prayed to every night. His Facebook cover was a Catholic church. A place she wasn’t accustomed to, a place that left an unsatisfying feeling in her stomach. She never believed in God, but she figured she could try to get lost in his idea of God. The way she lost herself in his chest. She saw herself turning into the stereotypical, Filipina housewife he saw himself marrying. Good enough at karaoke, loud enough to nag, Catholic enough to be devout. She caught herself worshipping the facade she built for him. The more she pretended to pray, the unholier she felt as her lips didn’t follow the congregations. She had almost collapsed.
She pulled away. Freeing herself from his embrace.
Several Sundays later, she stared into his chest. They were dancing again. He looked down to gaze into her familiar brown eyes, yet she wasn’t lured back into the look of yearning she had fallen for.She denied the comfort of his body and looked down to her feet. He wanted her intimacy, but she returned to chaos.
On the very last Sunday, she curtseyed to acknowledge the dance is over. He will move onto the next Filipino girl, she will walk off the stage to watch. Maybe, I’ll find a nice European boy and live happily ever after. If it even works that way anymore.