Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2018 – Who I Am Now

Name: Sophia Perry
From: Sewickley, PA
Grade: 12
School: Quaker Valley High School, Penn State University
Votes: 0

Who
I Am Now

By:
Sophia Perry

As
a teenager finishing high school and getting ready to launch into the
world, I am naturally expected to be self absorbed. Bombarded by
impressions from the media and everyday experiences in school, I
could easily be tricked into thinking that the only important thing
is, well, me, and what I will accomplish with my life. But, I’ve
realized that just going through the motions is not what I want to do
anymore. I can, and I will, make a difference for someone other than
myself.


There
was a week over the summer that I spent a mere five nights with an
organization called Youth With A Mission, situated in the south side
of Pittsburgh. It was a summer camp, but it changed my life in more
ways than I ever could have imagined possible. You see, this summer
camp wasn’t for me. It was for the refugee children living in the
projects of Pittsburgh, who had nothin
g
consistent in their lives. I figured the least I could give them was
some of my time, though a precious commodity for this self-absorbed
being!
I
am willing to bet they did not think they had anything, anything at
all, to give to me. But, they would be wrong.

That
week was one of the most memorable in my life.

Usually those highs and lows of great joy or sadness are the moments
that color our memories, but this memory is different.
It
was a time of great learning and great change – for myself, and for
how I viewed the world. For those kids, those remarkably joyful
children, it was a time of great hope, and I would never had believed
I had to power to spark that in someone.

After
that week, I began to see the world as how I wanted it to be, not as
how it was. I decided that it would be up to my generation to change
it – but not just for ourselves. I found, through that week I spent
with the refugee children, that giving to and helping others feels so
much better than giving to and helping myself. How I live my life
will not be determined by the
values
that society impresses upon me.
I
can, and I will, do everything in my power to become a person who
helps others, solely for the purpose of giving someone else what they
need – whether it be time, clothes, food, money, prayer, or anything
else.

Of
course, I find it a bit frightening to assume that I, a
seventeen-year-old girl, can change lives, much less the world. But
that will not stop me from trying. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters
compared to what lies within us.” In that case, it need not matter
what the future, my future, holds, because as long as I believe that
something will happen, I can make it happen.

So
it has been decided; this story, this life I have to live, will be
devoted to changing the lives of those around me into lives of
prosperity. And that realization, that personal growth, all began on
what I thought would be a week-long journey of simply spending time
with refugee children who have been able to find joy, even in the
worst of situations.


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