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Student Life
Chapel Talks

Families Come Together in Many Different Ways

By Kelly Castellanos and Bharti Vural

There’s the family you are born into and the family you choose.
Neither is perfect, but both are great.

BV: “I was born in India and placed in a home. I grew up in 3 different homes for seven years for the first seven years of my childhood. I moved from the rural mango orchard in India to the concrete jungle of Manhattan.”

KC: “I was born about ten years earlier on the same continent of Asia in a place called Vietnam. Neither of us knew when our birth parents placed us in an orphanage.”

BV: “I was told I was placed there at three months old.”

KC: “Soon after, I was on my way to my new home on the small island of Puerto Rico—for both of us, we went through a seismic life change—linguistically, geographically, and culturally.”

Ms. Castellanos holds class outdoors with Form II students on a beautiful autumn day.

BV: “I first met my parents at JFK airport wearing my traditional kurta and carrying a small suitcase. We piled into the car and worked our way to my new home. I had never seen so many buildings, people, and colors. I had never heard so many city sounds. I had never seen an elevator, a western toilet, or had a room of my own with my name printed on toys and clothing, letting me know this was for me, and only me.”

KC: “My experience was vastly different. I arrived in Puerto Rico, by way of Philadelphia, at 15 or 18 months old. And in my very young eyes, everything was mine. Kidding aside, even though I was too young to express or understand what I was feeling, I knew something was different. From what my parents told me, my first few words were what they imagined was Vietnamese.”

BV: “For me, the difference between me and my family was apparent. I didn't have the same skin color and my name was unusual, which set me apart.”

Ms. Vural and her Form C Homeroom for 2021–22.

KC: “And for me, it was more gradual, but one thing we could both say is that our differences were pointed out by others, whether through questions or observations and even assumptions.”

BV: “A common question I would often be asked was, ‘Who are your parents?’ Being on this identity journey, this question always struck a nerve. Early in my journey, I was always mortified and felt compelled to explain myself. As an adult, I have greater patience to discern whether it's curiosity, ignorance, or just plain rudeness.”

KC: “For me, I was asked, ‘How did this happen?’ as people pointed to my sister, parents, and me. My response was always giving them my entire life story: “I have a Puerto Rican dad, American mom, Korean sister, and for fun, I would add I had a French dog and a Cuban cat. There were, and still are, days when I am okay telling my story, and then there are other days where it is frustrating and tiring.”

Ms. Castellanos and her Form II Advisory for 2021–22.

BV: “In the reading from Matthew, Jesus speaks of the family both in the literal and metaphorical sense. Mary was his mother, and his disciples were his other family members by extension, doing the will of God.”

KC: “We interpret that as our parents did the will of God. They created a home that was filled with unconditional love, care, and safety.”

BV: “Families come in different ways. We have our immediate family, parents, friends, and family here at school for you. In the end, what we all have in common is care and love for one another.”

Ms. Vural’s Form C Homeroom met with Mr. Robinson for a warm welcome to the STA community.

KC: “Those among us make divisions and walls between people based on nationality, gender, race, faith, class, etc. But the great truth is we are one family, bound to one another by our common humanity and therefore responsible for one another. Someone chose to give us a home in our time of need. We hope throughout your life that you learn that love grows and strengthens as you share it and expand your sense of family to include others.”
Located in Washington D.C.,  St. Albans School is a private, all boys day and boarding school. For more than a century, St. Albans has offered a distinctive educational experience for young men in grades 4 through 12. While our students reach exceptional academic goals and exhibit first-rate athletic and artistic achievements, as an Episcopal school we place equal emphasis upon moral and spiritual education.