Turning Point

May 23, 2011
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In my first days of sixth grade, the physical education teacher measured students’ height and weight. We were given a house color based on our height and weight results because they wanted to have people of different sizes in every house. That way, when we had annual inter-house competitions such as, cultural dances, elocutions, debates, and athletics, we couldn’t complain about a certain house having better people. Anyhow, in my school, there were four different house colors: red, green, yellow, and blue. I ended up in the blue house. I was happy because I liked the color blue, just like the sky. I felt free.
Later in the afternoon, I went to my blue house’s meeting where we talked about yearlong plans for inter-house competitions. Usually sixth graders were ignored during the house meetings because high school students thought of us as young and stupid. I was glad to be ignored because I didn’t want to be under the spotlight. Ever since my experience of being pinched and humiliated in fourth grade, I had struggled with stage fright. I freaked out like crazy when I thought about speaking on a stage.
As the house meeting went on, out of the blue I heard my name called by the house master. He asked me if I was interested in competing in inter-house Tibetan elocution. I looked at the crowd of my friends with my disbelieving face and answered “yes” to him. Time passed by. I met with my elocution instructor every day to work on my speech and performance. The night of the inter-house Tibetan elocution competition was getting closer and closer.
I remember it was a Wednesday evening, and the big day was finally here for me. My school uniform was just out of the laundry. The smell of the Tide soap was strong on my cotton blue trousers and white and blue stripped shirt. For the second time, I polished my black leather shoes. I retied my hair ponytail style with a white band. For the third time, I looked in the mirror to see if anything was stuck on my teeth, and for the twenty-fifth time, I made my little sister listen to me practice my delivery of the elocution poem.
As the night went on, it was my turn to recite the Tibetan poem. Everyone clapped encouragingly since I was the youngest to compete. I stepped on my school’s old wooden stage that sounded like crickets as I walked toward the microphone. I noticed that the hall was packed with people. I could see faces, lots and lots of faces, but they all looked featureless to me. The bright stage light shined right on my face, and I started reciting the poem. I did everything right: eye contact, expression, voice, length, pronunciation, and body posture, like I was trained to do. Yet, I couldn’t help myself from blushing and shaking while heading back to my seat.

My luck kept me going. I sat back on my seat, blushing all red and repeatedly sipped up tiny sips of water to make my body temperature lower. I managed to trick my mind from the reality of me sitting in front of a crowd of around two hundred people by trying to find my mother in the crowd. The night passed by fast, and then they announced the winner. Guess what? I won!





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