The Boy

August 13, 2011
By , , United States
While walking through the breezy summer night in Ecuador, I realize someone is spying on me. I feel a sense of immediate danger and hesitantly make my way to the shadowy figure behind the tattered cloth. The cloth that covers the figure slowly opens and a set of wary eyes relieves the tension on my face and meets my gradual smile. The boy pushes the cloth away and runs toward me at a cheerful pace, and we embrace. As I look into his eyes, I see specks of hope and comfort replacing his once lonely, coal-like gaze.
I wake up early the next day to begin reconstructing a school which seems more like an abandoned shack to me. The work is tiresome and exhausting, but I feel a tingling sense of pride at every new compartment my teammates and I build. Although I sacrificed all of my snowboard trips during the winter break, I knew that this productivity is much more valuable to me and those who benefit from it.
By the time my teammates and I gather for lunch, many students and parents have crowded around the new site of the school. The adults are gossiping about yesterday’s news; whereas the children are chortling about the upcoming renovation of their school. When the lunch is over, I sit under a shade and see the boy approaching me.
He offers me a cup of water, and sits right beside me. After what seems like much contemplation, the boy breaks the silence and asks, “Mr. Jay, why do you want to help poor people like us? I don’t understand why you would come from a rich country to a poor country like mine.”
I look at him for a while and think how to answer him.
My mind races back to the memories of childhood in elementary school and my joy of talking with people. As a native-born Korean, I’ve lived in Korea for the most part but I have also visited countries that were harshly impoverished outside the resort, such as Philippines, Ecuador, and Malaysia. When I first encountered these harsh realities of poverty as a child, I instantly concluded that I would dedicate much of my life to help those struck by poverty. At first, I had all sorts of thoughts running in my head from starting a school to building a charity organization because I really did not know how to attack poverty. Then, I realized the happiness remarkably shown in the eyes of the students and parents rejoicing over the new school. Their smiles indicated much more joy than that of mine during Christmas when I had all the gaming systems I have ever wanted. Immediately, I knew that volunteering my time to do whatever to please them was the best and only way I could attack poverty.
After thinking, I look back at the boy and say, “Because the world is unfair and I know that you can become a leader like me.”

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