I was born in Albania in a small village of about 50 just as the Cold War ended. I knew nothing about the war or politics though because I was really young at the time.
My grandparents grew up as farmers but my parents had more "professional" jobs. My dad was an officer in the army and my mom a nurse in the nearby city. At the age of about 2, my parents decided to move to Greece because the economy in Greece at the time was way better than it was in Albania. When they moved to Greece they left me in Albania with my grandparents. The crazy part is that I have no recollection of this time in history or these events, but every time I look at the few black and white pictures we have from my childhood in Albania life seems so different there.
A few years later after my parents made some money and got stable jobs in Greece they decided to convince my grandparents to move to Greece with them. After moving to Greece I attended 1st and half of 2nd grade, and then my parents along with my uncles and aunts from my mom's side decided to make the bold move and move to America where there was opportunity for their children to grow up and do something great. As I learned later on in life, I had a great grandfather who migrated to America in the 20s, and left his wife and children behind to make extra money. He then earned his citizenship and moved back to Albania to raise his kids. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be here now.
My childhood memory only goes as far back as the 2nd grade here in America. I went to a bilingual elementary school, the Ohrenberger here in Boston and then attended the Washington Irving Middle School in Roslindale, MA. After taking an entrance exam, I got into the John D. O'Bryant School for Math and Science in Roxbury, Massachusetts. High School is what shaped my interests and what really helped me get into MIT. When I was a junior in high school the Science Director came to me and a fellow student Bruno and asked if we'd be interested in building robots. Both of us, knowing nothing about robots but interested in learning about them, enthusiastically replied with a "yes" and later found out he was referring to FIRST Robotics. After spending a year in the FIRST Robotics team and meeting Ed Moriarty, who works in Outreach for MIT's Edgerton Center, we learned about MIT and that it was the "best engineering school in the world".
You can guess what happened from there. We both got in, and now we're both here studying Course 2. To be very honest, only recently have I realized how great it is to have the background we as first generation students do. Every time I tell my story to someone it makes them feel like they don't even have a story. The FGP has really helped in me being proud of my history, and has made me realize that a lot, or should I say ALL of the things I've gone through as a first generation student, someone else here at MIT has gone through them as well.