Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Meeting Eddie

Name: Katherine Kopenhaver
From: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Grade: Sophmore
School: Parkland High School
Votes: 0


    I was shaking. My heart was pounding. Staring back at me was a hundred
homeless people probably wondering, ‘what is this privileged white
girl doing here?’ I looked around for a friendly face through
tables of homeless Philadelphians all trying to get their hands on a
hot meal. Then, I saw Eddie: a tall, black and bearded man in his
later 40’s wearing a slightly ripped green t-shirt and basketball
shorts sitting next to a small, overfilled suitcase. His smiling face
staring back at me, he asked me to take a seat beside him. I started
to relax. I introduced myself while trying to think about what I was
going to say next. But before I could ask him the stereotypical,
“What brings you here?” or “Do you like your meal?” he
excitedly says, “I would like to show you something!” He reaches
into his small suitcase and pulled out small, slightly ripped pieces
of paper. He sets them on the table and asks, “Do you like
calculus?” Completely taken aback by his question, I said, “I’ve
never studied it.” I listen to him talk about the person that he
idolizes the most, Sir Isaac Newton. Lost in his love for knowledge
and Isaac Newton he tells me the story of how Newton accidently
discovered calculus.

Once he made sure I knew everything there is to know about Isaac Newton,
Eddie picked up the small, slightly ripped pieces of paper. He said
that he woke up early this morning and sitting on the side of the
street was inspired to do some calculus problems. He put one of the
papers in front of me saying that this problem was easy. The answers
just looked like a bunch of random numbers and squiggly lines on a
graph but I smiled at him as if I thought the same. With that problem
in hand, Eddie starts my first ever calculus lesson by saying
that there are 2 main components to calculus; derivatives and
integrals. He explained to me that the derivative allows for you to
find the slope of a curve at a certain point while integrals allow
you to find the area under that line. Eddie ended the lesson by
proudly stating, “Calculus is such an important field of study
because it calculates continuous change. Without it we would be
stagnant as a human race.”

As I was leaving the table, I looked over my shoulder realizing that
this man who has nothing just gave me something that is more valuable
than any amount of food or money I could have given him. He gave me
just a little bit of insight into a study he was so passionate about.
But I noticed I gave him something too, a listening ear. With this
exchange, I realized that the value of a person does not depend on
the monetary value inside their coat pocket. But instead someone’s
value lies inside of them. I hope to take this realization with me as
I meet different people on my journey into college. I’ll just have
to open my ears and listen.

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