Significant Experience This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The damp and eerie alley I had timidly entered was nearly abandoned, if it hadn't been for a few scraggly-looking men inanimately slouched on the concrete steps of a dimly lit building. I wanted to turn and go back to my cozy home, but my conscience dragged me toward the intimidating building. As I approached the still figures on the stairs, they snapped their impassive faces at me. I pushed my frozen body to keep on going.

Stuffing my perspiring hands into my jeans, I zipped my jacket and wished for the best. Rigidly climbing the stairs, I unwillingly imagined I was creeping through a lion's den. I feared one of these men would suddenly pounce on me. Building up every ounce of courage, I neared the entrance. After what seemed to be an eternity, I reached the metal door at the top of the steps. I turned its rusty doorknob and went into the warm building. Inside I felt safer and more relaxed.

For the next four hours I helped to cook and serve food. After washing the dishes, I met a fascinating man from Jamaica. Though he didn't even know my full name, he told me everything about himself - the prejudice and social hardships he faced in America and his plans to return to Jamaica to support his ailing mother. I never met a man with such strength and perseverance. I wished to adapt his vitality to battle my everyday problems. He told me no one had ever taken the time to sit down with him and honestly care. But tonight, even with just a couple of hours of listening and understanding, he warmly said that I helped relieve him of a lot of emotional stress.

The moments in that shabby building signified a turning point in my life. Breaking from my judgmental habits, I resolved to value my surrounding community, to erase judgments of their economic status. I discovered a special gift that I had unconsciously presented that night. A gift that can lift the spirit of the forsaken and downhearted. A gift that requires no financial expense: the gift of friendship. fl


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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