The Road Less Traveled This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 13, 2008
She quietly hobbled into the clinic when her number was called, clearly in excruciating pain. When asked what was troubling her, she lifted her left leg to reveal the sole of her foot. The entire medical team froze in shock. A cut on her left foot had become so infected that we could almost see the bones. It was incredible to think that anyone could stand, never mind walk, on such an injury.

We treated her foot, pouring ethyl alcohol on the wound, applying salves, and bandaging it to ensure that this basic, temporary treatment would provide a little comfort. The girl sat silently all the while, and despite her pain, smiled and thanked us when the last bandage was in place.

One of the nurses enquired what had caused such a terrible injury, and she simply replied, “Mis padres no tienen dinero” (My parents don’t have any money), which is to say, they couldn’t afford shoes and socks for her. Moved by her sad plight, I took off my sock, put it on her bare foot, and told her to be careful. After thanking the medical staff one more time, she slowly limped away. That night, I cried myself to sleep. This is the story of a six-year-old girl I met during a medical mission trip in 2006.

Knowledge can indeed be a curse. Every member of the medical team realized that the girl had a slim chance of surviving such an injury, especially with her financial difficulties and the infection that had set in. Nevertheless, we were forced to pretend that she would be okay. We found little solace in the small comfort we provided her. In all likelihood, she is now dead, since her parents probably would not forgo essential needs, such as food and fuel, to pay for the medical treatment she needed. This is not a unique story in third-world nations, where poverty is the norm and the economic oppression of oligarchic rule cripples the lower classes.

As the son of Christian missionaries, service has defined my life. I have lived in England, where we worked with the marginalized Middle Eastern and Asian minorities. I have lived in Guatemala, where we encountered political oppression, inhumane poverty, and broken lives every time we turned around. I am now in America, where I have directed my service to my local hospital, food drives, and church music ministries. Furthermore, I have thrown myself into the newly available academic opportunities – AP courses, college summer programs, and scholarship societies. But I cannot forget the poor, the oppressed, and the needy all over the world. Their cries to be treated with dignity haunt me and inspire me to pursue my dreams ever faster.

As such, I have decided to apply to the very best colleges, in hopes of receiving an education that will direct me to medical school and eventually to the World Health Organization. There, I will fight for the welfare of the ignored, impoverished indigents for whom medical care is a distant dream. Some people have told me to tone down my dreams and to lower my goals. But when I remember holding a dying baby in my arms, when I remember how the little girl hobbled out of sight, when I remember hearing that a missionary was shot dead by a paramilitary group, I cannot. I must go on, in the hope that after many years, I might quote to my grandchildren:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

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 31 comments. Post your own now!

SilverSnowflakes said...
Mar. 12, 2010 at 8:48 am
That's so sad... I'm glad you're helping people though :) I haven't decided what to go into yet... I'd like to do missionary stuff but I'm not sure I'd be able to - I'm not very good with people, and I've had no experience with that. I'd also like to adopt kids, be a writer, and my mom wants me to go into music... this was very well written and I love that poem!
Jingmei said...
Feb. 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm
I knew the moment I saw the title that you were talkin about God-- and man I am so blessed to be sitting here, reading this poignant experience. Thank God for people who have such a heart to care and to love like you! Life is so painful sometimes, but God is so good.. and can heal our hearts. God bless always
Dec. 14, 2009 at 2:40 pm
this was a really good article. it's good that you are giving to other people. we need to know what is going on in the 3rd-world countries because they dont talk about it on the news anymore, all they talk about is tiger woods, obama drama, and war. it's a good thing that there is someone out there that cares enough about 3rd-world countries to talk about such an experience that you got the rare chance to have
PurpleMidnight said...
Nov. 22, 2009 at 9:07 am
This essay really touched me. I too want to go into the medical field as a career, along with orchestra, and people are always telling me to tone down my dreams too. Well, reading your article has made all the difference to me. The Robert Frost quote at the end of your essay gives it an amazing finish. I hope to see your efforts and accomplishments in the paper as well. If I don't, I still know that somewhere out there, someone else is trying and following their dream
Alysha said...
Oct. 9, 2009 at 9:53 am
I think this essay is really sad because the little girl dies.
anotherazn said...
Aug. 14, 2009 at 9:54 pm
This was a touching narrative of loss and hope. I wish you success in college and I wait for the day when I see your name in the newspapers for helping mankind.
Elise said...
Jul. 13, 2009 at 11:38 pm
I loved it. I'd like to disagree with konakai .. poems can be interpreted differently. Her interpretation fits what she got from the poem, that is the true beauty of poetry.
konakai said...
Feb. 1, 2009 at 2:55 am
I think the essay is extremely well written and I congratulate you for your contributions to society. The only problem with the essay is that you misinterpreted Frost's poem. The poem means that when you come across a difficult decision, you can only pick one "road." In doing so, you can never know if you made the right choice. Many people mistakenly quote the poem as a source of inspiration, but in fact, the poem is a commentary on the impossibility of certainty; the inability to know anyt... (more »)
frost1 replied...
Sept. 17, 2009 at 11:44 pm
what konakai is saying is true - Frost's tone in describing both roads is neutral
emrldshine replied...
Dec. 15, 2009 at 9:20 pm
But Frost also implies that he takes the raod "less travelled" as does the author of the essay who has chosen a path less convenient when he could have easily chosen an easier I think the reference to the poem makes sense...
By the way, Good Job!
NoLabelsPlease replied...
Jun. 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I are right about coming across  a decision and chosing only one road but the author is saying he's taking the path less traveled less expected to be traveled which is stated in Frost's poem. It is also the path proven to be the most difficult.

And yes you can know whether you've chosen the right path in the end...It's something you feel within yourself. It's not what anyone else thinks. It's what you yourself thinks...

(To the author) God bless you and continue... (more »)

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