Charles Schulz said, “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” This summer I went halfway around the world to Australia. I was going with 13 other teenagers in a program to spend five weeks traveling the country. I was so excited I didn’t think twice about the home-stay. And what hit me as the biggest shock was my host family.
I was told there would be a mother, father and a daughter. When I arrived to my home-stay I had no mother, a father, a brother and the daughter who really needed someone. Her name is Jamie and she is someone I will never forget. She has no goals for herself and she rarely went to school. Her father doesn’t make her go to school, education isn’t very important to her family. During the two weeks I spent with Jamie I saw that it was difficult for most people to get along with her. It was challenging at times for me, but the Dad was who I struggled with.
He reminded me of my biological dad, the one who I never want to see again, the one who caused my family so much pain. But halfway around the world I ran into him again. Both were mechanics and a lot of things reminded me of each other; the way the home was kept, the way he gave no attention toward to his children unless it was anger. My real dad had a lot of anger and for so long I had been fighting a fear of him. It was really hard for me to be in a house that reminded me so much of what I had escaped from.
What was scariest for me is that I believe if my Step-Dad never walked into my life I would be in that family and I would be that girl Jamie. I believe one person can change your life and without my Step-Dad I would not have the life I have now. He stepped into my life and loved my like I was his own child.
This summer I realized how blessed I am to have a mom and to have a dad that both really care about me. Jamie has neither. My group leader was going to change my host family, but I choose to stay because I know Jamie really needed someone to care about her, and to be a real friend to her when no one would.
Recently I talked to a friend of Jamie’s, and she told me Jamie is actually going to school. I feel like my time there influenced Jamie in a positive way. I believe that one person can make a difference in someone’s life. And it can happen in so many ways. My stepfather changed my life completely and for the better. And I believe that taking the time to care for someone changes their life.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.