What Students Are Saying About Gen Z’s Values, Thrift-Shopping, and Beloved Family Members

Table of Contents A Sibling Who Is Also a FriendA Special Bond With a Parent

We invited students to read “Kuya,” an interactive illustrated piece about the artist’s relationship with his older brother, who deals with mental health issues.

Then, we asked them to tell us about a meaningful family relationship they have in their own lives. Many shared touching stories and moving tributes to their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and aunts and uncles.

Born five years apart, my sister and I inevitably had the stereotypical sisterly feud for the beginning of our lives. With her in her teen years, wanting to hang out with her friends and with the temper of a 13 year old girl, and me, still in elementary school, wanting to cling onto her like a parasite. We would soon leave this period of distrust and hatred behind after she had gone off to college and I would be entering my first year of high school. We found that we had common interests and that our personalities went hand in hand. From this, sprung the most meaningful family relationship that I have had. We would do everything together when she was home — eat dinner, go on walks, and hang out with family members we also started becoming closer to. In other words, we became each others’ best friends, which is something that I will be forever grateful for.

Sarah, Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn

When I was younger I had a younger sister with a severe case of epilepsy. She was roughly a year younger than me and died when I was 3. We didn’t have a lot of time together, but the time we did was the best. She means a lot to me because many times I think to myself that that could’ve been me with the epilepsy, but it wasn’t, and that I have to live everyday of my life grateful for every second I’m here. My sister is the reason my family does a lot of the things we do. We are religious and stronger in faith now because of what happened to her, as much as its a grieving topic, it really helped bring my family closer together.

Ryan, Baldwinsville

Like the narrator, I also have a “kuya.” He’s a senior now, but I really look up to him. Whether he knew it or not, he helped me get through some pretty tough times when I was learning what it was really like to be a teenager. He has served as a great example for me as a student, sibling, and person. Unfortunately, I barely get to see him anymore and, when I do, I realize just how much my big brother has changed in the meantime. I feel left behind. But at the same time, also like the narrator, I feel proud of him.

Grace, Block 3, Hoggard High School

My mom and I have always shared a strong connection and an unbreakable bond — the typical mother-daughter duo. She has such a kind and selfless heart, she has a contagious laugh, and gives the best hugs in the entire universe. I wish I could be half the woman my mom is. She is such a strong soul. I wish I could give her anything and everything in the world, while also shielding her from pain and disappointment. I can tell my mom anything, and I know she won’t judge or ridicule me in any way — I feel safe with her. My mom takes care of me when I’m feeling unwell physically or mentally and knows how to make me smile after a long day. She has never missed a single orchestra concert or sports game of mine — she is incredibly supportive. She texts me good morning everyday and lets me know she’s praying for me while we are apart — she’s caring. She would sing me hymns and songs to rock me to sleep, and i still know them word for word — their lyrics bring tears to my eyes. I love my mom, and 1,000 words wouldn’t be enough to describe her love in every detail — the detail she deserves.

Elizabeth, Glenbard West High School Glen Ellyn, IL

My dad is the one person in this planet that I would look up too when times get tough. He is my motivation to get up at 6:00 am to get ready for school and do the best I can to make him proud. My father, a energetic soul and hardworking man, will always be my #1 person. He is my role model to work hard and don’t give up. He is an example that I want to follow and a person I want to keep close because I know, despite whatever happens he will always be there to have my back and help in any way possible. Making him proud and getting a smile on his face is always the highlights of my day. I treasure all the littlest moments I have with him and remind myself how fortunate I am to have someone so uplifting and cheerful to make me smile.

Zaida, Glenbard West