This I Believe

Ruzana - Charlottesville, Virginia
Entered on February 17, 2007

This I Believe

I believe in education. I don’t remember when my belief appeared but I remember it growing. The night before my first day of school was the longest one in my life. I stayed awake the whole night excited and afraid of being late to school.

I was in the third grade when the Soviet Union collapsed bringing chaos and devastation to once wealthy Socialist Republics. People lost jobs, teachers stopped being paid and schools stopped being funded, heated and lighted. Almost everything was losing value including education. When my classmates stopped believing in education I continued to believe. When my last candle would melt I read my books under the moonlight. I believed one day my work would pay me off and until that happened I was holding my books close to my heart.

When I finished high school and made a decision to pursue higher education everyone seamed to laugh at me. In my country at that time I needed either good connections or money to get to the university. But when even my closest friends expected disappointment I kept studying. The day before university entrance exams my mom entered the room and crying begged me to stop dreaming and be like other girls – get married and become a housewife. I sat in my room surrounded with books and notebooks I was not able to read having my eyes full of tears.

I was running so fast I felt I was about to fly. I received the highest possible grades and was accepted to the university with a full state scholarship. It seamed I became a parable for my little town. People who I never knew were talking about me many adding their exaggerated details to the story. However, I did not feel like a hero. I did not do anything extraordinarily. I just followed my belief.

I carried this belief with me during my four years at the university. Again people would tell me all was in vein and even with good degree I would not be able to get a job as jobs too required bribes and connections. I kept studying and a recent undergraduate was hired by United Nations.

I believe in education. I believe if I gave up studying I would not have been the person I am now; I would not have met my true love who is my husband now; I would not have been an inspiration for so many young girls in my small town.

I believe in education like I believe in love and friendship. I believe it is the same way rewarding.