Penguin Paradise This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

      Every eight-year-old girl has a dream. Many want to be princesses, some want to be cowgirls, a few want to be president. Me? I wanted to see the penguins. So, at a time when most of my friends were spending their money on Barbie dolls and colorful hair ties, I was saving for a trip to New Zealand.

A small and relatively unknown island off the coast of New Zealand, Snares Island is home to some 25,000 penguins. When I first heard of this isolated penguin paradise, my eight-year-old heart was captured and I was determined that, one way or another, I would see those penguins.

It turns out that Snares Island is a “minimum impact island,” which means that no matter how much I saved or how long I waited, the chances of my actually visiting weren’t good. But that’s the beauty of being eight - the whole world is in your grasp, and any goal can be achieved if you try hard enough. So, I hatched a plan to visit Snares Island.

I didn’t have a bank account, but I did have a small M&M piggybank. I spent my days working hard to earn money, and my evenings figuring out how much more I needed to earn each year to take the trip when I turned 18. I weeded my mom’s garden, made my brother’s bed, and killed spiders for my sister, then put every hard-earned dime into that bank. With the help of my parents, I looked at plane tickets, figuring in some rough form of inflation. Every day, I would look at my progress and congratulate myself on being one step closer to penguin paradise.

Obviously, my trip hasn’t taken place, and due to the restrictions on visiting Snares Island, I doubt it ever will. For months, though, my world revolved around what would have been my favorite place. And while my ten-year plan slowly disappeared, and those hard-earned dimes were spent on more ephemeral things, the memory of Snares Island stays with me.

I look back now and laugh at my naive determination to achieve the near impossible, but more than that, I look back and admire that girl who had the audacity to work for what she wanted. Even if the only penguin I ever see is at the zoo, some of that little girl will stay with me: her appreciation for nature, and her determination to make her place in the world. Her surprising organization and planning still drive me through high school. And even now, when my favorite place has moved from New Zealand to the Rocky Mountains, whenever I see a penguin, I can’t help but remember and smile.

Other girls may have outgrown their princess, cowgirl, or president phases, but I refuse to outgrow my penguin phase because, maybe, just maybe, the world is still in my grasp, goals can be achieved, and after all, someone’s got to go see those penguins!

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

pocHi said...
Sept. 13, 2010 at 8:34 am


i like your essay..

it gives me a lot of good things let us say moral values..

hope u ryt mOre..


Spaid replied...
Sept. 27, 2011 at 12:28 am
It was really nice, it made me smile and chuckle a bit which is great!
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