As I walked into my first grade classroom eleven years ago, I was a nervous wreck. The sparse interactions I’d had with people outside family left me overwhelmed by the sheer number of students. Now, as a senior, I am attending the high school right down the street from the elementary and middle schools I grew up in, with the same students who have become my extended family, the vastness of the community I once saw diminished into a small, tightly-knit golden bubble
For my whole life, I have called San Marino, California, home, and though it is always bright, sunny, and beautiful, it has an overshadowing sense of homogeneity. A majority of my friends share my Taiwanese heritage, and nearly everyone comes from an upper-middle-class background. San Marino is so small that everyone knows each other, and rumors spread in the blink of an eye. Seeking something new, I set out to travel during my summers, and though I have tremendous pride in my hometown, I have expanded my perspective on the enormity of the world. Last summer, I traveled to Moshi, a rural town nestled in the heart of Tanzania with Global Leadership Adventures. I spent three weeks teaching at Himo and Korona primary schools, where enthusiastic children eagerly welcomed me with songs in Swahili each morning. Their pure spirit struck me, as did their ability to live happy lives regardless of their deprivations: a lack of school materials, inadequate staffing, and poor health conditions.
After teaching in Tanzania, I immediately began to appreciate my own education, which I’d always taken for granted. I am lucky to be able to attend a beautiful, modern two-storied school. I have the privilege of taking rigorous, college-level courses in subject areas that intrigue me. Diverse activities outside of class provide chances to develop hobbies and interests. Before seeing the educational system in Tanzania, I never fathomed what it was like to be in a classroom without electricity, teachers, and clean facilities. Because I had never taken the time to explore parts of the world where educational conditions are dire, it was challenging for me to even realize that there were people in the world who were not as well off as I was.
Teaching in Tanzanian classrooms spawned my aspiration to make education more accessible to people in developing parts of the world. Education is a ladder people have to climb to attain the prosperity I believe everyone deserves. I have seen firsthand that people in underprivileged circumstances work just as hard as their more fortunate peers in trying to better their education when given the opportunity. I aspire to volunteer for the Peace Corps, living in an underdeveloped country, where I can work with locals on educational issues, mentoring both teachers and students, as well as teach in classrooms. After the Peace Corps, I hope to take my commitment to a higher level by creating an education-oriented NGO abroad. My dream is to create a more sustainable future through educating the underprivileged.