Made in El Dorado This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     Severalthings identify me as the person I am, but one stands above the rest - my lovefor the town from which I came.

On more than one occasion, my family andI have packed up and tried to leave El Dorado behind, but we always came back. Ibelieve our last move (about eight years ago) makes this our fourth time in ElDorado. Most of my peers cannot wait to leave my "boring" town. I thinksomeday they will realize that anywhere they live will seem boring after a while.I believe I've risen to the challenge of living in El Dorado, Kansas. This towngrew on me, and I've actually come to love it. In fact, this community and itspeople helped shape my personality and character.

A few years ago thethought of leaving El Dorado and its small-town ways after graduation oftenpopped into my mind. Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn, though. The turningpoint for me came the summer after sophomore year when I turned 16. I met themost incredible person, and he changed the way I look at life. Of course, mystubbornness and cold heart did not realize that this boy broke through mysupposed impenetrable defenses with innumerable hours of patience and love. Myadmirer became my best friend and mentor. He taught me how to love and live lifewith the knowledge that every day reflects a blessing.

He gave me somuch, so I wanted to make him proud and felt I could do this by becoming involvedin the activities he enjoyed, especially community service. I never knew howwonderful it felt to give without expecting anything in return, includingrecognition. Eventually, I began volunteering for myself.

Through theseexperiences I met people, young and old, who shared my goal of helping. Neverbefore did I suspect the tight-knit community of El Dorado to be so full ofpeople who genuinely care about each other and their town. As I spent more andmore time with them, I realized why they work so diligently to make El Dorado abetter place - a place where every person understands the art of livingwell.

In my sophomore year a friend chose me to act as her co-chair forJunior Ambassadors, which left me as chair senior year. This seemed more a burdenthan a blessing at first. Then, as I became more involved in volunteering, Irealized that this position opened many doors. Not only could I volunteer throughschool and church, but I could work with the Chamber of Commerce - a group aroundwhich most community events revolve.

Soon I was working at almost everycity function: Prairie Port, Walnut River Festival, Celebration of Freedomevents, the Jazz, Swing, Blues Festival, and almost any supported event. Myfriends often ask why I feel I must make an appearance at every event hosted bythe Chamber. I tell them it's because I want to help. It's like a "bug"that once you catch, you just cannot shake.

Sometimes people worry aboutme because they think I work too hard ... and maybe I do. But I truly love myinvolvement. I found a pastime that not only makes me happy, but also allows meto help make El Dorado a better place to live. People argue that we do notcompare to large cities like Wichita, but I turn around and ask if they want todeal with Wichita's problems. I know that small-town blood runs through mysystem. I love meeting people and knowing that once I meet them, I will probablysee them again, which wouldn't happen in a big city.

On the way home fromWichita one night, one of my friends asked, "Can't you just feel your lifestopping?" I felt exactly the opposite. El Dorado, Kansas, or Smalltown, USA(whichever you prefer) is where my life finds meaning. This community and itspeople helped shape my personality and character.

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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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
yesterday at 10:06 pm
i love this so much!
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