This student is surprised to realize that Zlata’s story, which seems so distant from her own, has impacted her so deeply. She is amazed at the fact that Zlata is a normal teenage girl, like her, who has similar tastes in clothing and music.
Once again, a student realizes that superficial differences such as nationality do not determine one’s character—and that Zlata is a normal teenage girl despite the war she lived through.
When the class goes to the Croatian Hall to hear Zlata speak about her experience in Bosnia, they realize that not everyone relates to their message of ethnic tolerance and peace. After Zlata speaks about the injustice of losing friends to ethnic hatred and violence, most of the students feel that they can personally relate to her. Some adults, however, ask Zlata what her ethnicity is, demonstrating their inability to understand her message of ethnic peace and tolerance. Instead of focusing on her own nationality, Zlata replies that she is a human being.
This episode demonstrates that adults are not necessarily better informed or wiser than a group of adolescents. Here, adults show resistance to Zlata’s refusal to categorize herself in ethnic terms. Their insistence on knowing Zlata’s nationality demonstrates their inability to see her in the way that the students see her: as an ordinary teenager who happened to live through a particularly dangerous war.
This student feels inspired by Zlata’s response. While she herself has been taught to be proud of being Mexican and Latina, she realizes that what matters should not be her race or ethnicity but the fact that, like Zlata and everybody else, she is a human being.