I believe inspiration makes life worthwhile.
This past summer I spent in China, and it was the greatest thing I have done in a while. Better than graduating high school; better than any party I went to in college. China had the opposite effect of any party I went to in college. China sobered me up. As I arrived home and tirelessly repeated to my friends the story of my trip to China. I realized what my trip was about: inspiration.
One Sunday afternoon, as a favor to my boss, I taught English in a Korean high school. I was surprised to discover all high school kids are the same. Although these kids were in a different country they acted just like me in high school. They slept, listened to music, talked, built paper airplanes. They did anything but pay attention to the teacher; anything but what they were supposed to do. I figured I should skip the lesson and just talk to them. Give them advice, maybe, I thought. I tried to give them advice not as a teacher, but as a seasoned teenager, someone only two years their elder. The gist of my effort to give advice was, “gain as much knowledge as possible.” I said, “I don’t care if you don’t listen to me; I’m probably not someone you should listen to but try to be as productive as possible. You’ll find yourself later as I am trying to gain as much knowledge as you can because you exhausted so much time in high school.” An hour to try and influence them and nobody listened. Or so I thought.
I granted the kids what they most eagerly desired; to get out of class. I hadn’t taught them English, and I thought nobody listened to my advice. Feeling as if I intolerably failed, I dismissed class. But to my relief one girl as she was leaving said to me “thank you.” I asked “Why are you saying thank you?” She replied “For talking to us. Thanks.” She admiringly made her exit. It dawned on me: It takes one chance, one talk, one meeting to change a life. I was uplifted at the fact I had changed her life in a way.
I wrote a poem thereafter on inspiration. I inspired her as she inspired me. I began with “I only hope to inspire like Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” But as I wrote realization settled in. It’s not only these enigmatic figures I have only read of in history books that inspire me. Although they have done great things in history, other people have done great things too. My mother who has given everything I could ask for inspires me. My teachers throughout the years inspire me. From the elderly people who should be retired by now but still do menial work such as pick up garbage to the ten year old girl who sells flowers on a bar street in Beijing; they inspire me to appreciate what I have been given in life. It is I who inspire my friends to converse with me and confide in me. Whether I meet you once or everyday it takes only one meeting in life to inspire.
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