When I was 11 years old, I lived with my family in the attic of a farmhouse near Frankfurt, Germany. We were refugees in a new place, far away from our previous home. We were very poor.
Because I was a refugee, and because I spoke with an East German accent, other children often made fun of me and called me names that deeply hurt. Of all the times of my youth, I believe this may have been the most discouraging.
Even though I still remember the hurt I felt, I can see now that this was a time of great personal growth. During this time, our family bonded together. I watched and learned from my parents. I admired their determination and optimism. From them I learned that we can overcome adversity when we have faith and courage.
I think back on that 11-year-old boy in Frankfurt, Germany, who worried about his future and felt the lasting sting of unkind remarks. While I would not be eager to relive those days of trial and trouble, the lessons I learned then were a necessary preparation for future opportunity. Now, many years later, I know this for certain: it is often in adversity that we learn those most important lessons that form our character and shape our destiny.