Truth and Aspirations This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 26, 2009
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With two older brothers in the Peace Corps and a sister undergoing the application process, almost everyone I meet asks me, the youngest of four, the same question: “What do you think about joining?” And to each I sheepishly spout the same answer: “Oh, I don’t know. That’s a long time from now.”

Growing up in a small town in central Illinois where many of the residents have never seen an ocean, let alone crossed one, I figured this was the easiest answer. I didn’t want to get into a deep conversation about who in their right mind would want to pack up and leave Illinois to go live in the middle of nowhere for two years. Who would want to live in extreme poverty where no one speaks English and electricity and plumbing are luxuries? Instead of fielding these questions, I avoided them. I told people what they wanted to hear.

But what I really wanted to say was that there is nothing that entices me more. I wanted to tell them that their ignorance astounds me. How can they not see the adventures that are in store for me around the world, if I can just get to them? How can they not see the appeal of these life-changing experiences?

I wanted to tell those innocent inquirers, “Yes, I do want to be like my siblings! I hanker to see the world, to make a difference!” I yearned to tell these curious questioners that I dream of going someplace far away and exotic, proving to others and to myself that no matter where you are, there is always potential for improvement, for progress. I needed to show these makers of small talk the pictures from my trips to visit my brothers. If they could see the people dyeing leather and weaving carpets in Fez, Morocco, maybe they too would crave a visit to a faraway land. If they could hear the schoolchildren singing, despite the constant threat of malaria in Iganga, Uganda, maybe they would realize what they too could get from in the world, if only they pursued it.

But now, as I watch my high school days draw to an end, and my longing deepens to broaden my horizons beyond the plains of the Midwest, I am beginning to give a different answer. Now, especially as I am applying to college, I am starting to realize just how close my future is. Instead of brushing off questions, I answer honestly. I tell anyone who asks that same old question, “Yes! I am interested in following in my brothers’ and sister’s footsteps. Yes, I do want to stand out and make a difference!” I’ve realized that if I’m too afraid to tell others of my aspirations, I’ll never convince myself that they are attainable.

Without a doubt, my siblings have had an enormous influence on me. Their risks and achievements have inspired me to push my limits and explore new options. As I begin my college search and reflect on my strengths and weaknesses, my hopes and dreams, I realize that I am still largely unsure of what I want to pursue in school and in life. But one thing I know for sure is that wherever I am, I want to help others and grow in faith, knowledge, and character. I want to make a difference.

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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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

emily S. said...
May 7, 2009 at 3:35 am
wow!
 
kalin49 said...
Mar. 21, 2009 at 10:42 am
I am a chinese student so my feeling may be different, but i thing you've made a good job!
 
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