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Outside the "Crystal Ball" This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It was the same city I’ve lived for almost fourteen years of my life, but something was different. The air had a pungent taste and the sky appeared dense with darkness. It was then when I realized that the crystal ball I had been living inside throughout years was finally breaking. That crystal ball my parents had created for me when I was born, inside that ball, everything was perfect; no pain, no sorrow. No effort to achieve my desires, in fact, everything was done for me. If my maids where not doing the chores I had to complete, then my driver would. I was blindfolded from reality, and the ones covering eyes were my parents.

I was not allowed to visit or even pass trough the rural neighborhoods with the people in need of my city. In fact, at the time I didn’t even know this type of neighborhoods existed. My daily routine was my house, school, The Club, and then my house again. Therefore, none of my drivers were allowed to drive near the “violent zones”, making the view of my city only three fourths of what it really was. I was ignorant that people could have different living conditions than mine. My thoughts were everyone had the same facilities, the same amount of maids, and drives available every second of the day. That life with bodyguards behind my cars, where I couldn’t walk alone in the sidewalk or even try to look through the window of my car because I was always surrounded by people wanting to do everything for me. I lived monotonously, always had the same routine, no worries, but also no satisfactions. Just hearing my mother complain about how should I dress, or the way my hair should be for that night’s dinner. Or where should we travel next. I felt empty, although I didn’t know what was missing so I considered it normal. What I ignored at the time was that this life style I was living in and this crystal ball I was trapped in, were far away from reality.

It was then, April 10 of 2009 when my grandmother called me to invite me to drink tea in her house. I was surprised; it was not usual for her to invite me during the week to her house. I decided to go, ignoring the fact that my life was going to change from that instance, forever. She received me, as always, with a warm hug, the ones I wish were endless. In the table were some macarons in a silver cup, and a small cup of collection tea. We sat there talking for hours, when finally she said “I want you to help me with my foundation of children in need, the only thing you have to do is teach this kids English.” Her loving voice entered my ears and what she was asking seemed as an easy work. Therefore, I agreed.

When I said yes, and her joy was incredible, I had never seen her so happy. So then I questioned myself; why would this be such a big deal? Just teaching a bunch of little kids English, piece of cake! We agreed I would go every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to the foundation. It would only be on hour a day. Five o’ clock sharp. She named a neighborhood I had never heard before, and that was where I was supposed to go. I asked her if that neighborhood was in the city, and she laughed. She said it was very near to where I lived in. I was confused, I had never heard that place before, or maybe sometime in the news reporting some violent situation of the neighborhood. Her tender voice and wise advice told me “Flora, you have to open your eyes, this is the real world, and suffering is part of it.” Her wrinkled hands grabbed intensely the cup of tea as soon as she spoke those words out of her mouth. I really didn’t understand them, and sure didn’t find them as important.

It was finally Monday, and I was anxious to know the place I had been expecting for a while. It was a 15-minute trip, literally, in car to the school in where my grandma’s foundation was, in Aguablanca. As I entered this zone, I was shocked by the amount of poverty; the way two different worlds can be as close together. I just lived 15 minutes away from what seem to be hell. My family and I live close together, we have a condominium only for our family, and the houses are spectacular. It still was difficult for me to awake in the situation that two different worlds, two different views of the world could be so near, and even so, in the same city.

As I got down from the car, three bodyguards were expecting me at the door of the school, it seems this world, was a thread for me. I entered the school, for my perspective, dressed normally. However, everyone kept staring at me as if I was a monster. The girl’s looks on their face where probably that they wanted to kill me. The school also shocked me it was nothing like mine. It was like reality was striking through my eyes like beam of light, that beam of light I was blind from since I was born. I didn’t know what would be expected from me here, I was scared by the way people stared at me, they looked at me with hatred. My knees began to shake, and my heart to race. I was scared. I didn’t feel comfortable and I wanted to leave. But then, the sweet face of my grandma came to my mind. Who was I to disappoint her? She asked me for a favor and I was there to accomplish it. Suddenly some girls of the school started yelling, I didn’t know though, I was the one they were yelling at. “Hey precious, you don’t belong here!!! Go back to your mansion you mommy’s and daddy’s girl,” they shouted with fury and irritation. Like I was not allowed in their world, but they also weren’t in mine. This thick air I swallowed in that dark afternoon in May second of 2009 was unforgettable. That air that created and environment of anger, just complete fury I felt it was just because of my presence.

The girls were right I didn’t belong there. The world that for them was normal, for me was just a thread. A thread in which five bodyguards had to be behind me in case of any attack. I was there to make my grandmother proud, and I was definitely not giving up this time. I got to the room I was assigned, there were 10 kids age 6 or 7; I don’t remember very well. There was a blackboard and some English books. The looks on the children faces were beautiful, like they were just sitting there, waiting anxiously to learn something new. I was introduced as their new English teacher and they all said “Hello teacher” at the same time, it was a tradition they had. The first day I taught them the colors, and we ended the class with a song. It was wonderful! Suddenly, it was time for me to leave because the hour my grandmother had asked me for, was over. Although, I didn’t want to leave. The kids didn’t want me to leave, we had such an amazing time it was difficult to say goodbye. However, I was going to be back the next day, and I couldn’t wait any second longer to be there. I felt satisfied, just the pure happiness of serving, of serving the ones in need. The feeling was amazing I felt like nothing could ever be better, and that I could help these children succeed in life.

Later that night in the dinner table, my mother asked me how it went. I told her “ok”, because if I told her how happy I was she would immediately get nervous and wouldn’t let me go back into that school. Hours passed like minutes, I finished my school day and went directly to La Asuncion School. They were expecting me, my little kids. Just their looks were enough to fill the part of me that was missing. It is serving, what makes me the happiest. The lesson for the second day was to learn the family members.

There was one particular boy in the class, with whom I was in love with. Not literally in love, but I just wanted to hug him. He was seven, I remember perfectly. His name was Jhon Estiven Rangel. I made them draw a circle of the family members they had, their father, mother, sisters or brothers. A girl raised her hand and told me in Spanish “I don’t have a father.” So I told her not to draw it. Later, five other kids raised their hands either to tell me that they didn’t have a mother or a father. It seemed so sad, and it was difficult for me to understand that I was privileged for the family I had, and it was in that moment when I was thankful for the blessings God had given me.

Later in the day I started talking to the little boy. I saw the drawing he had made. He drew his mother and father in separate heart. I asked him why. He told me “The only thing I want is for my parents to come home, that’s why they are in a heart.” As a complete ignorant I asked him where his parents where. He told me his father had left him when he was five, and that his mother moved away 6 months ago. He wasn’t sad, he always had that bright smile that completed my heart. After talking for a little while he asked how was the world up there. I asked him up where? He said, “There, where all the rich live.” I was silent for a little while. I told him it was not fun, and that it was similar than here. He said that her Grandmother had told him “up there” everything was perfect, and that someday he wanted to live there. I told him he would. We started talking and he asked me if I was happy. I told him I was, although my life was not happy at the moment. Then I asked him if he was happy, he nodded with a big smile and said “yes”. Tears began running down my cheeks; I couldn’t believe that a little boy, whose life was so hard, would say he lived happy. And me, a spoiled rich girl, who had everything, who couldn’t ask for more, doubted when they asked me I was happy.

It was then when I found real happiness. When the crystal ball began to break, and when I realized the only important job in this life is to serve the others. Right now, I go everyday to La Asuncion, from five to six when I have homework, and when I don’t, I spend my whole afternoon there. At first,
it was complicated for me to believe there was another style of life, a type of living where people had nothing. No food, no home, no family, no nothing, but still, they were happy. I was then when I realized in life, there are rich people, and people who have a lot of money.

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megamind95This 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...
Jan. 26 at 5:13 pm:
I love this story. It made me feel something when I read it. I wonder how often most people take the initiative to look beyond our own little worlds to notice others. 
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ZozeyThis 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...
Jan. 26 at 4:40 pm:
This is wonderful! I wish you didn't post annoymous. I would have liked to see more of your work.
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