Lena, 22, Denmark

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“There are many people in my life I want to thank. I am truly blessed by being surrounded by amazing friends. I am grateful for my boyfriend who has supported me and been an incredible rock for me during the toughest year of my life. My two sisters, who are there for me through heartbreak and loss of a loved one, I am grateful for the bond we have, which can overcome anything. And not to forget my amazingly strong mother, who, no matter what, always holds her head high.

Last and most importantly. My grandmother. I want to thank you for always being there for me, welcoming me with open arms. Thank you for never judging me and my actions and always believing in the good in people. Thank you for welcoming my boyfriend into the family again and again, even though we’ve struggled figuring out our relationship. You believed we could make it work and you were right. Thank you for your positive mind and everlasting support. You always gave me the strength I needed and have been and still is a huge guidance for me. I admire you for your strength. Even through cancer, you never showed weakness or pain. Stubborn that you are, you didn’t want us to worry. Not even a little bit. I look up to you, grandma, and I miss you everyday. I love you”

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Marcus, 21, Sydney

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“While many can be grateful for what they have now, I look back and see how blessed I was through my childhood and adolescence. My grandfather, or nonno, as my Italian heritage would denote, was the man I idolised above all others. He loved and adored his family and taught me that no matter what you can achieve on a personal level, no amount of wealth of personal goals are more important than taking care of the family.

In 2003, nonno suffered a major stroke and lost his ability to speak and paralysed his right side. Doctors gave him little to no chance of walking. But the stubborn b**tard that he was, nonno didn’t like people telling him he can’t do things. He worked hard through months of rehabilitation until he could walk with a cane. A small step but it really emphasised the man’s incredible character. Even though he had lost his ability to speak, it never stopped nonno from straining his voice trying to pronounce our names and sing happy birthday to each of us. He never stopped pushing his limits to engage with his family.

In a selective schools test in 2005, the question was “Write about someone you admire.”. I wrote about you nonno. You always gave me strength and support in all my endeavours, soccer, school and family, and I looked up to you. Nonno, your guidance has been a huge part of making me the man I am today. You taught me that family comes first and you led by example. I cannot begin to express the love and gratitude that I have for you.”

Mie, 22, Sydney:

10695440_10205024102542207_1256980366_n_Fotor“My grandparents’ house has been for sale for two years now, and while I am in Sydney studying a semester they finally got the house sold. The house holds so many nice childhood memories for me, which is why it makes me sadthat I couldn’t be there to help but also to say a proper goodbye to the house. Luckily, I have the best parents and a really cool uncle that helped my grandparents through the move and made the transition easier. Even though it may not seem as a big thing to the world, it means a lot in my world. This is why I can say that what I am grateful for being a part of an amazing family that always supports each other and help each other through difficult times, and the amazing memories we have created together.”

Tine, 23, Canada

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“I have had nightmares about death three nights in a row. Last night I dreamed that my mother died. I woke up with my face covered in tears. In France they say that when dreaming about someone’s death it means the opposite – that they are healthy. I told my mum about the dream and she responded: “Well, I am glad you cried”. The relationship to my mum has always been strong. She has been my driving force for most of the things that I do today. She forced me to sing, study and to be focused and committed to the things I do. I love her for forcing me. Despite several discussions, fights and disagreements, I try not to hate her as much as a love her. I hope the French people are right and that the dream indicates a healthy living and a healthy relationship that will last for many more years.”