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“Jasmine, would you like to come with us on this community development trip to Cambodia?” asked Commander Terence. Upon hearing those words, I was slightly hesitant as I never had any experience in the area of community development trips. The only words that I could utter at that time were “I would consider it.” Part of me was extremely eager to jump out of my comfort zone, grab hold of this opportunity and possibly even have fun with my peers. However, part of me also felt apprehensive about embarking on this journey of adventure, risk and challenge. Like I always do, I went up to my dad and asked him for a piece of his mind. “Papa, recently, Commander Terence offered me an opportunity to go for a community development trip to Cambodia.” Before I could further explain the inner confusion that I had, he encouraged my reluctance by saying, “Jasmine, I think you should go for it!” with a huge grin plastered across his face. In response to that, I gave him a clueless gesture hoping for a much different reaction. “Don’t you think that they should approach someone else who is probably more confident, better equipped and bold enough to step up to such a challenge?? I am afraid that I do not have what it takes or have anything to offer to the people in Cambodia,” I said. My dad paused, pondered, and then said, “You know, Jas, you should never allow your fears to make your decisions. You make them.” These words still stuck on to me till this very day. After much deep thinking and consideration, I took this chance to venture into this territory and face uncertainty, pressure, change, and even the possibility of failure.
After twenty days of preparation for what lay ahead of me, it was finally the day of departure. I wasn’t having a feeling of assurance at that moment. Though the atmosphere was filled with excitement and the adrenaline rush that others felt, I wasn’t exhilarated. After arriving, my team and I settled to our respective rooms planning and preparation. During the planning session, I was assigned to teach the Cambodian children English for three consecutive hours. It is not that I did not obtain an A in English, but I was absolutely bewildered when I found out that I needed to stand in front of a crowd. Now, for some people, having a task that involves speaking in front of a crowd may not seem like a challenge. But, for me, it is insanely different as I am a person of a shy nature. Put me in front of a crowd and sweat would be flushing out of every part of my body. Stammering and stuttering would probably be the only thing one can hear. My entire body language would only speak nervousness. Speaking in front of a crowd was something I either avoided and I just never had the boldness to do it. I don’t possess great oratory skills and most certainly do not have a talent with words. For the entire night, I laid down and stared up the ceiling wondering how I am going to execute my best and survive the next day till I rest my eyelids.
Fear and anxiety filled every compartment of my mind as I thought about how I am going stand in front of a crowd, making sure that this little voice of mine would not quaver and at the same time deliver an impactful lesson. As time went by, students started making their way in. Upon seeing seats being filled up one by one, I was looking forward to a moment where students would stop coming in as the crowd was increasing in numbers. However, it was clear to me that all hope was gone as every seat was taken by a soul. The moment finally came when my commander confidently uttered these words - “Jasmine, you are up next.” It was obviously too late to run away from this hopeless situation with a seemingly bleak outcome. Astoundingly, an inner voice at the corner of mind came into action and said, “You know what? You came too far just to quit. What is it that you have to lose? Worse come to worse, this would be your first and last trip to Cambodia. Let’s just plunge into this and give it your best shot!” As soon as I stood in front of the crowd, the hopeful eyes of every soul were eyeballing me with smiles on their dark-skinned faces. “Hello everyone, my name is Jasmine and today we will be learning about words related to market,” I said with an uneasy voice. After approximately twenty minutes of stammering and stuttering, I actually found myself adapting to this seemingly intimidating task. Thankfully, it was the eagerness and passion each student possessed that pushed me forward and convinced me to rise above my comfort zone. Their actions clearly define the words “passionate” and “diligence.” It gave me the confidence to make eye contact with my students and speak comfortably. The spirit in me was motivated as I learned that they travel the miles long unpaved roads with their bicycles and motorcycles from their respective villages on a day to day basis just to learn English – their ultimate challenge. I must say that it is just as challenging for them to pick up English as for someone to learn a foreign language.
After three consecutive hours of stretching beyond my boundaries, I was surprised as two Cambodian girls approached and thanked me. “Hi teacher, thank you for teaching us,” they said with a Cambodian accent. After muttering those words, they both reached out to me with their skinny arms and embraced me in a hug. I can tell you that this is something money can never buy. It was such a satisfying sense of feeling knowing that you have left a positive footprint on the lives of others. And this feeling remains within my soul till this day.
If someone were to ask me, what is that one thing I took away from this life-altering experience, this is what I would say, “I have learned that stepping out of your comfort zone awaits uncertainty, pressure, change, or sometimes even the possibility of failure. Nonetheless, it is also a place of opportunities and adventures and the only realm in which you’ll ever reach your full potential. One will never reach it and attain greater heights in life by hanging out within his or her comfort zone. That I know for sure.” ~



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PrometheusThis 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. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 23, 2012 at 11:00 am:
I'm very impressed by you.  Wish I had the guts to step outside of my comfort zone like that.  Random--did you write this essay for a school assignment?
 
Jazmyn805This 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. replied...
Nov. 28, 2012 at 8:35 am :
Hello! Thank you so much for your feedback!!! I really appreciate it! :) Yes, this was for a school assignment. Then, I decided to give it a shot at publishing it! :)  By the way, I read some of your writing and they are fantastic! :D
 
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