Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2017 – Sharing A Passion And Changing The World

Name: Erich Podbielski
From: Richfield, WI
Grade: Freshman
School: Concordia Univesrity - Wisconsin
Votes: 0

            Oftentimes, we get caught up in trying to get ahead of everybody else in our
community. Rather than trying to tear each other down, we should
strive to build each other up. Integrity, respect, and perseverance
are all things we should be striving to create in society. If my last
decade of volunteering as a Taekwondo instructor at my local YMCA has
taught me anything, it is that the world sorely needs people who are
respectful, have integrity, and are willing to persevere. I have
witnessed how one person sharing their passion can impact countless
lives for the better.

When most kids describe what they want to be when they grow up, they don’t
say, “I want to be a Taekwondo instructor.” However, after
learning and teaching martial arts for the past decade, I have come
to realize how badly the world needs good martial arts instructors to
help positively impact society. After several years of training and
climbing the ranks all the way to 3rd-degree black belt, I felt a
compelling desire to give back to the art that I gave me so much. The
martial arts taught me that everyone deserves respect, regardless of
age, gender, color, religion, or any other factor. It also taught me
that if you do not persevere, you will not accomplish anything
meaningful in life. In addition, if these accomplishments are not
completed with integrity, then you have accomplished nothing.

I started out volunteering at the same YMCA Taekwondo program that I
came up through when I was younger. After starting as a junior
instructor, I now have the privilege of running the very program that
I came through so many years ago. I volunteer four days a week for
three-five hours a day. This does not include the many tournaments,
belt promotions, and other activities that come up throughout the
year. While teaching martial arts may sound simple, a lot goes into
running an engaging Taekwondo class. Classes must be engaging,
exciting, and challenging for all students whether they are five
years old or are experienced and are a teenager. With belt promotions
and tournaments to prepare students for, I also have to ensure
students are on the top of their game consistently in order to
compete at the local, state, or national level. While all these
things may seem important, the most important part of my job is
ensuring these children grow to reflect the values of respect,
integrity, and perseverance. Without these attributes, we cannot
accomplish anything meaningful in life.

While I teach children to be respectful, confident members of society, they
teach me a lot as well. I have learned how much a difference one
person can make. Seeing kids who have grown up through the program
beginning to lead accomplished, adult lives is an indescribable
feeling. As I continue down this path, I will look to these children
as my inspiration to always strive to be better than I was before.

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