Set Your Goals As High As the Mountains

By , South Burlington, VT
High up in the mountains as far from civilization as you could get, lived a young girl. Her life was a simple one. She helped her family tend the land they owned. She would gather up the goats in the morning and drive them to the field to graze. Next she would milk the cows and then she would help her mother bake bread, all before the sun had reached the highest point in the sky.
Her life had always been the same. Each day consisted of the same things. She didn’t mind that though. It had been this way her whole life and besides she had no other life to compare it with. She had often wondered what it would be like if she had grown up in the village.
That all changed though one fine day in mid autumn. As the sun slowly rose in the sky, a young man started to climb the hill. He was the teacher at the school in the valley. He had heard about the family that lived up in the mountain and the young girl that was apart of the family and was determined to give that girl another view of the world, but from the ground this time.
He traveled slowly as he was not the fittest man around. He made it to the half way point as the sun was setting and he decided to camp for the night. By the end of the second day he could see the house. As he took the last couple of steps a women stepped out of the house.
“Hello,” she said.
“Hello, I’ve come to talk to your family,” he responded. The women just laughed.
“Well of course. Why else would you have climbed the mountain?” she said and chuckled again. “Please, come in.”
As they entered the house the man looked around. It was a simple house, maybe three rooms, furnished with only the essentials. He looked and saw that there were only 4 books in the room. The women walked through the first room into the second where the whole family was sitting. The women pulled up a chair and offered it to him. He complied and soon they were all seated comfortably, with tea brewing on the small wood stove.
“I’m here because I think your daughter would enjoy life at the bottom of the mountain. She would attend school and I believe she could do great things in her life if she could only come down and learn,” he said once they all had their tea in hand. Her mother looked at the girl.
“Is this something you would like to do?” she asked her daughter. The girl hesitated then answered.
“Yes, mother. I think that would be a great opportunity,” she replied.
“Very well. We can manage well enough with out you,” she said then turned to the man. “Will you start traveling back down now?” The young man looked outside. It was pitch black with only a few stars in the sky.
“Only if she knows her way down the mountain in the dark. Otherwise I’ll have to wait for the light of morning.”
“Oh, yes. I could get down with my eyes closed!”
“It’s settled then. You can pack now and we will start out in an hour,” the man told her. She packed quickly and they were on their way down the mountain within the hour. Even though the night was dark the girl had no problem finding her way and all the man had to do was follow closely behind her.
My mid morning the next day they had reached the village. He showed her his house, which was where she would be staying, and then he took her to the school. Because harvesting crops was how the town made its money, at harvest time the children were let out of school. It was just nearing the end of harvest and school would be starting up again in a little under two weeks.
The school was a small three room building, not unlike the house she had grown up in. The front room was where everyone put their coats and book bags. The second was the classroom with a chalkboard covering about half the wall space. The rest of the wall space was full of the children’s work they had done. The third room was his office. He had a large desk with a name tag that read: Mr. Monroe.
He then began to show her around the rest of the village. Her favorite part was the market place where people were bargaining for goods. As they approached a man selling tea pots she turned to him and said “That man is not getting a good bargain for that.” The man turned from the stand upon hearing her.
“Why not?” he asked her.
“Well, that handle is about to break right off and the top looks like it wont stay on right. I wouldn’t pay more than two pieces for that. More and you are just wasting the money. You will need to have it fixed,” she explained. By now the sales keeper was fuming.
“You don’t know anything! You’re just a little girl!” he yelled her.
“I may not know much about this village but I have been making my own tea pots for years and yours are not high quality. You should not sell them for so much,” she replied and then turned and walked away.
“That was very impressive,” Mr. Monroe told her as they walked away. “Now if you just learned math you could be very good at business.”
“Thank you. My mother taught me to never cheat people out of their money. I was just doing what I thought was right,” she told him. As they walked her eyes wandered all over as she took in everything. She was so interested in the sights that she didn’t notice how long they’d been out.
As the sky grew darker they headed back and when they had had dinner she climbed into her new bed and fell almost instantly asleep.
For the next week or so they fell into a routine. She would get up and have breakfast and then head out for the market where she would help everyone get good deals. They had learned that she was quite good at it. Then with a little money Mr. Monroe had given her she would buy herself some lunch and then continue helping the people who came to the market. As the sun set she would head home for dinner and then she would go to sleep.
Soon the day of school starting again arrived. That morning she took extra care in how she got ready. Spending more time on washing her face and then putting on her new uniform so it hung right on her.
As she walked up the path to the school the butterflies in her stomach got faster and faster. Mr. Monroe had left early to prepare for class. When she walked in everyone turned and stared at her.
“I’m glad you were able to find your way on your own,” Mr. Monroe said as I stepped further into the classroom. “Class this is our new student Diya. She’s from up in the mountains and she came down to go to school. For now she is staying at my house. Diya why don’t you sit in that empty desk there.” He said pointing to a desk off by the one window in the room. Everyone watched as she walked to the desk.
She sat down slowly taking in all the people in the room. Her eyes found a girl sitting alone in the front corner. She was obviously a girl whose parents had moved her for a better life although she couldn’t understand how this was a step up from anywhere. No one looked at her and she was pretty sure she didn’t have any friends. At that moment she made it her mission to become her friend.
When they were dismissed for lunch she walked out into the bright sunny school yard. She could hear several students calling her name but she ignored them all and headed toward the girl that had caught her attention.
“Hi, I’m Diya. I’m new here. What’s your name?” She said as she got close to her.
“I’m Tera Diez. Why are you talking to me?” she asked looking confused. “Anyone here would be your friend. You’re staying with Mr. Monroe. That’s like an automatic in into anyone’s friend circle. Why me?
“Because you and me are similar. We both come from families that have us here to get a better education so we can have a better life. That makes us unique from anyone else here. Also you’re the only one who doesn’t seem to care that I’m staying with Mr. Monroe.” She told her in response. Just then the whistle to come in was blown and Tera and she stood up to go inside.
When she got in she walked right to Mr. Monroe’s desk and asked if he could arrange for Tera and she to sit next to each other. He seemed almost a little too pleased to fulfill the request.
For the next two weeks Tera and she got together any time we could. They both loved school so they could spend hours on school work that Mr. Monroe would give us. Because we were spending so much time on school work Tera’s parents were fine with her coming to my house.
After two weeks of this, Tera and she were way ahead of everyone else in school. Mr. Monroe had to pull things out of advanced books so that they would have something new to do. They were allowed to work together on their work so they were almost never alone.
Life was almost too perfect then. She had everything she had ever hoped for and she didn’t want it to end.
But of course, it did.
It was a cloudy, fall day in late November when Mr. Monroe pulled Tera and her aside.
“You two girls have now depleted my supply of work for you to do. There are some options left for each of you in your education. Tera, you can either continue with things you have already done or I can help you apply to a higher level school about 100 miles away. Diya, you have three options; you can stay and continue as Tera can, you can go back to your home in the mountains, or you too can try and go on to the higher level school. These are you options and I would consider them wisely because it will dictate your future.” It took a while for the facts to stick in and when they did she was shocked. To her staying here was not an option. And after seeing this life she didn’t want to go back to the mountains. Her choice was clear.
“I want to go on to the next school,” She spoke clearly addressing not just Mr. Monroe but Tera too.
“I will have to speak with my parents but I too want to try to get in to the higher level school,” Tera said.
A week later Tera and she sat down and took the test that would allow us to get into St. Patrick’s American high school. And two weeks after that they got their response: Yes.
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As the sun slowly rose in the sky a girl about 25 years of age started to climb the hill. It had been almost 10 years since she had last been to the top and she was excited to be there again. She had left her friend Tera in the village in order to visit the top again. They would meet up in a couple weeks.
While she climbed she thought about all the things she had accomplished. Making it into the higher level school, going on to the country college, and then going on to get one of two scholarships to a college in the United States of America. And the whole time Tera was right by her side.
When she reached the top she heard a shriek and turned toward the noise. Her mom was running toward her at full speed. As her mom hugged her she realized just how happy she was to be home, even if she did have to go back to school in a month in order to continue on and get her doctorate.





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