When this student meets Tony, a young boy at the Croatian hall who was shot at point-blank range by Serbian soldiers, s/he feels grateful to have left her/his native Peru. Like Tony who was permanently affected by war, this student’s life was overturned by terrorism in Peru. Her/his family had already planned on moving to the United States when, three weeks before they left, terrorists blew up the house next door. The student’s family was told that, if all the dynamite had exploded, their house too would have been blown to pieces.
The student describes her/his luck at having escaped a violent death, and her/his knowledge that not everyone is as lucky as her/him, as Tony’s situation illustrates. Her/his recollection of this violent moment in her/his life signals that it has left a deep mark on her/his memory, even after having escaped such a dangerous situation.
In the United States, this student felt lost at school until s/he met some Mexican children who talked to her/him in Spanish. Like this student, Tony cannot communicate in English, but he was certainly capable of communicating his pain. After Zlata’s speech, in which she said that in war soldiers became children and children soldiers, this student realizes that soldiers do, in fact, behave irresponsibly and immorally, while children are forced to lose their innocence in war.
This student realizes that part of the healing process involved in overcoming a difficult situation must include interactions with other people, who might give one comfort and support. Zlata’s inversion of children and adults’ roles suggests that wisdom and maturity are not dependent on age, but rather on a sincere commitment to be a good person and behave morally.