Yoav Gonen on How Grandmothers Influence Personal Growth
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In Chapter 7 of 11 in his 2011 interview, education reporter Yoav Gonen notes the importance of strong women in his life, especially his grandmothers. Through counsel from both grandmothers and his mother, Gonen learns to be more confident and stand up for himself. Yoav Gonen is the education reporter for the New York Post newspaper in New York City. He earned a Masters of Journalism degree from New York University and a BA in English from the University of Michigan.


Erik Michielsen: How have you built a relationship with your grandmother and how has it shaped your life? Yoav Gonen: It was initially with letters. My dad's mom was much more comfortable writing letters back and forth, and that started when I was in college and continued immediately after I graduated and we'd write each other letters, which was a really great way to communicate. And so for a long time I was closer with her. And then my mom's mom, I guess my relationship with her progressed once I started going to Israel more often, and I started - I would stay with her for a few weeks at a time and it started becoming almost every year. And, I mean, she's just a very funny lady, a real character, and it didn't take long once I started seeing her more often for us to develop a really close relationship. I've always been influenced by strong women basically, I mean, all the women in my life had been kind of role models, like very strong, tough women, you know, my grandmother went through some really tough times in her life, including being at Auschwitz for little while, and she was one of the most positive people that I'll ever known, and you know, if anyone had a right to complain about their life, she did. And she was really one of the most happy people I ever met. My other grandmother too, you know, she went through some very hard times, partially because of the war, partially just kind of growing up, you know, in difficult circumstances, and she just, she's got the same kind of positivity, I mean, that's one of the things is really just learning to count your blessings, and definitely realize just how fortunate I am, which they've helped me do. But also to - I think one of the things that I struggled with growing up is I'm just a very - I was always very kind of appeasing, I don't like conflict and so I think I would tend to defer to what other people wanted rather than what I wanted and my grandmother always complained, you know, that I shouldn't let people walk all over me, and kind of standing up for myself, and I think that's actually something that I learned from them and I'd say for my mom as well.