Ryan - Gunnison, Colorado
Entered on October 3, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, tolerance

When I decided to write a “This I Believe” story I thought it would be easy, because I had read quite a few other stories from some of the greatest minds of our time, and I thought that I knew what I believed well enough to put a few words about it on paper. Let me tell you now, that I was wrong in my assumption. As a college student, there are many aspects of life that I am just now starting to figure out, but I am not completely devoid of experience. I have learned some valuable lessons that have helped me journey through life, and adapt to the many changes and hardships that I have faced, and will, no doubt, be asked to face again.

When Hurricane Katrina hit and left millions of people out of homes, I was in my senior year of high school. I was an athlete, I was somewhat popular, I had my core group of friends, and I was finally at the head of my school. Things were very tidy and secure in my life at that time, and I felt that no change was needed. However, when things are at their height of familiarity that’s when life is always bound to get turned upside down. All of a sudden there were groups of new students that I had never seen before, and I’m not talking about incoming freshman. These new students were made up of evacuees from Louisiana, who had been ripped out of their homes and sent to entirely different communities from what they were used too. Life’s changes had been hard on them, but they were hard on me and my old classmates as well. My school consisted of a population of about 90% white students and the other 10% labeled “other.” So when a large groups of kids from many different races started filling the hallways, with their different accents, clothing styles, and slang, we had to adjust quickly. I am proud to say that my school met the changes with open arms and the transition went incredibly smooth, but it wasn’t without a great deal of work. It took a lot of courage, from both groups of students, to accept these vast differences and incorporate them into their lives to benefit one another.

I ended up learning a great deal about human diversity from that experience, and I got to see how change can be for the best at times. And though I may not have a solid core system of beliefs yet, but with every passing day in my journey through life I meet increasingly difficult tasks and changes that force me to alter the way I think and live. So when I am a little bit older I may have seen enough to be able to say “This I Believe” about religion, politics, or social etiquette, just like the great minds that have contributed beliefs before me. But for now, I am completely comfortable in saying that I believe in being flexible in life, and pushing your comfort zones so that you may be able see the world in a much broader scope, and gain greater knowledge from the experience that this practice enables.