A couple nights ago, I was going through some papers and found this essay that I wrote my senior year of high school. I used it and its variations for scholarship contests that I won and also was just really proud of it. I felt like it was and still is one of my best pieces of writing. I can't believe I wrote it when I was seventeen years old! As I read it, it was neat to see how some dreams within have been realized while others have yet to come to fruition. Anyways, here it is for you:
A journey of eight days irrevocably changed my heart and my life. I fell in love in Mexico, and have since suffered an insatiable desire to return. Differences can serve as a unifying force, but can also be destructive if they are condemned. The people of Mexico are gentle and tenderhearted, not brainless and laughable. The differences I thought I had with the Mexican people are now null and void.
Suddenly, the word poverty had a name and an empty stomach. Their dire needs encompassed and surpassed thoughts of the comfortable life waiting for me in Marietta, Georgia. Each person lived with meager provisions-food, clothing, and shelter.
Yet there was something different about each person whom I began to love. I had pity on them for the struggle they faced every day- the struggle for a father to provide the best for his children, dying inside and yearning to give more than he ever had, yet still filled with joy when he hears their laughter. A woman, who is tormented and harassed because of her beliefs, is still able to smile. My thoughts shifted from pity to envy.
The people of Valle de Chalco find the good in any situation and live life to the fullest capacity because they know the truth. They know that real riches bring genuine contentment and joy to life. I live to love- to bring joy into the lives of others around me while finding contentment in what I have- instead of seeking what I want.
High school has been a turbulent ride full of raw emotions and tough lessons that I have come to accept and learn from, and I am thankful for all of my experiences. I have grown into a conscientious young woman, full of determination and tenacity. My goals and ambitions are full of hope as I continue to do my best in all that life hands me as I seek to act with integrity and compassion.
I desire to study abroad in Spain for the spring semester of sophomore year at the University of Georgia because I am enthralled with all Spanish culture. The Spanish language is irrestible- I thoroughyl enjoy reading, writing, and speaking one of the most beautiful romance languages in the world. The Spanish people live with such intense passion and at the same time have an underlying sense of relaxation in all that they do. The idea of a siesta is an interesting concept to grasp because many Americans are so absorbed in their work; a two hour break in the middle of a busy day would be unthinkable.
The French novelist Marcel Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Americans generally have an unfavorable stigma in countries abroad. Many foreigners believe that all Americans are snobby, rude, and demanding. The "typical" American expecets to be served perfectly in every situation in any place of business. Unfortunately, the rest of the world sees that everything is not easily handed over on a silver platter. Real travel is not about a destination to be reached, but a pardigm shift that will influence one's vista and challege one to see everyday life in a completely different light.
After I graduate from the University of Georgia, I desire to travel to Mexico with hopes of residing there semi-permantly as a journeyman with the International Mission Board for two years. I left behind the people I met in Mexico physically, but they still hold a considerable piece of my heart. I admire and envy their optimistic and encouraging attitudes. In America, our society strives to live out the phrase "He who dies with the most toys wins." Americans generally desire to possess the latest and greatest. The Mexican people of the villages I visited do not posses material riches; their riches are those of love, joy, peace, and gratitude. Their spirits are calm and they live with a sense of peace because they have no worries about what is to come. They simply live in the moment because they understand that the days of life are numbered and tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely stated, "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." If everyone believes that there is still some good to be found in the hearts of every human being, more restoration will be brought to the lives of all who need a helping hand. Selfishness and egotism never benefited anyone, but humility and a self-sacrificial attitude can bring joy into the lives in one's sphere of influence.
I desire to make my dreams a reality and travel to Spain because I want my reality to be shaken up a little- I need a culture shock once again. I would like to have a time where my American mindset is reconfigured so that I am able to come back with a new sense of who I am and a genuine sense of culture and awareness is clarified through new experiences and opportunities. Mexico still holds a piece of my heart in so many ways, and I desire to fulfill the desire to return there by sharing love with the natives and being humbled by their gentle spirits and amiable nature. Life was meant to be lived, and by traveling, I believe that life is lived more abundantly as new horizons are seen, perceptions are grasped, and philosophies are realized.