This I Believe

Nicholas - Acton, Massachusetts
Entered on February 6, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

One Step at A Time

I am a thirteen-year-old boy, living in a quiet suburb in Massachusetts, still trying to figure out who I truly am and what I believe in. I have some ideas about both; however still more questions than answers as I continue on my discovery. I am not afraid to admit that I live in a sheltered place. I live in a predominately white area, and my friends, for the most part, are also white. And while I may be classified as Hispanic because my dad is Costa Rican, I consider myself as white as my friends. Still, I try to experience all aspects of the larger world, just living in my small, privileged surroundings. That especially includes people of different cultures and different races. I may not have experienced much compared to others, but I still believe that by at least opening myself up to what I can experience, I am helping not just my small world, but vast humanity at large. I truly believe that no good deed goes unnoticed, and I try to follow that principle every day I live. I believe in diversity. I believe that by doing my small part, by paying attention to all the little ways my actions and words can either build a bridge to bring us together or alienate us on our own, separate islands; I am making a difference. By doing this, I believe I am helping the large puzzle be completed, because hopefully someday it will be, but today, I know it is no where near finished.

This weekend I attended a diversity conference with my school. To live in a place where I am the majority is something I experience every single day of my life. However, at this conference, I was the minority. My usual world was essentially turned upside down. I was no longer surrounded by my white counterparts, but by people of ethnicities and races far different than mine. To see this change before my eyes made me realize that although in my regular, everyday world I do not see it, I am immersed in one world, where white is not the only color, but merely one of the many in the great collage. I always knew my world was not all white, that is a given fact, but being put in the position of the minority group, made me finally experience that fact, not just be aware of it. By truly experiencing the real world, even without leaving my own small one, I believe I made a difference. I made a difference because I obtained genuine knowledge, which I did not have before. I believe I have a responsibility to pass on that knowledge, and when I do, I believe people will listen.

I don’t believe that by going to the conference, I did anything special, but I do believe I made a difference, no matter how small. Making a difference doesn’t necessarily take a lot of effort or time. Making a positive difference is changing what is wrong; it is taking the effort to bridge the diversity between us, by being open to others. I went to the conference because the workshops and topics intrigued me. However, it was the experience of being part of the minority group, which I will carry everywhere I go, because by doing that I believe optimistic change will follow.