This I Believe

Megan - Lakeside Park, Kentucky
Entered on March 25, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the power of making a difference. The only way to ensure future

peace for our world is through learning about and understanding different

cultures.

Upon entering high school, I realized what a strong skill and passion I had

for the Spanish language and the Spanish and Hispanic cultures with which it

coincided. Beginning in sophomore year, I have annually volunteered at

Cincy-Cinco, a Cincinnati fiesta that celebrates the famous Mexican holiday

Cinco de Mayo. Through demonstrating traditional Hispanic games and teaching

cultural crafts, such as how to make a piñata, I lit a fire that has, with time, only

intensified.

Throughout both junior and senior year, I have been co-president of

Spanish Club, which has allowed me to further understand cultures so different

from my own. I spent five weeks of summer before senior year in Kentucky’s

Governor’s Scholars Program, during which I lived on Centre College’s campus.

I attended classes, one of which was Spanish Community, where we helped

Hispanic children. Since I was one of the few in my class who spoke Spanish, I

worked with an adolescent who barely spoke any English. I helped develop her

English speaking and reading skills. This was such an incredible experience, but

it was not until the last day that I realized what a difference I had made. This girl

explained to me how truly difficult her life in America was. Her family was divided

between Mexico and America, and everywhere she went, she suffered

discrimination just for being Mexican. No one had ever cared to help or get to

know her except for me; she confided that I was her best friend.

Ten days of that summer were also spent exploring Spain on a

school-sponsored trip. I was breathtaken- European culture was truly

remarkable. When I returned home, my family and friends were astounded to

hear that my favorite part of the trip was interacting with the Spaniards. I will

never forget the experience of simply conversing with the local people in

Spanish. I really feel that we, by communicating, were brought to an equal level,

a level of understanding.

Throughout my senior year, I have been driving monthly to an Hispanic

community in Dayton, Ohio, where I am, yet again, able to enhance my cultural

experience. Each time, I help a Sunday School class of toddlers, attend Mass,

pass out bulletins and books to the congregation, and teach the immigrants how

to read, speak and write in English. I cannot even fully explain what an

empowering feeling I get from doing this service. As I see my students mature

and develop their skills, I truly see what a difference I am making.

Due to the significant role Spanish has played in my life, I plan to major in

Spanish next year, become bilingual and use my ability to help others. I believe

that through simply learning about others and striving to make a difference, our

world’s future will be secured, one person at a time.