I believe in the power of education
While other kids spent their days learning in class; I was more interested in cutting classes to roam around the streets of Kinshasa, the capital city of Congo. My best friend Laurent and I would sometime spend weeks without seeing the inside walls of our classroom. Instead, we would walk around town sampling food from one street vendor to the next. I hated every subject except for writing because every time I was caught doing something wrong dad would punish me by making me write essays on random topics. Soon after the first couple of essays, writing was no longer a punishment to me. I, however, made little effort to learn my other lessons. My lazy days ended when I failed the state exams during my last year in high school. Though distraught, I knew this was perhaps the best thing to have ever happened to me. It was a rude awakening.
My father was always a constant force in my life. He more than anyone relentlessly and tirelessly impressed upon me the value of taking my studies seriously; “true freedom comes when you have an education” he’d tell me over and over. “Do you want to be successful in life? Read your books” those words resonated in our house and then penetrated my mind. At first, they felt like a golf ball in the air appearing to get lost in the grass but then as if thrusted by a gust of wind finding its way into the hole.
I can hardly recall a day when dad and I talked about anything that wasn’t somehow related to school; he’d stress that if I, as an African, was to succeed in the Western world there was no other way but to go college.
Failing high school helped put things in perspective and I promised never to let myself down again. Years later as a senior in a U.S. college dad’s words still echoed in my head even through tough times. Even when financial hardships forced me to spend nights outside, homeless for months with nothing to go on but the unyielding idea that only earning my degree would give me a permanent shot out of homelessness. Though it seemed odd to many at the time, I would spend the little money I earned from a part-time job at a local pharmacy to pay for school rather than shelter. I was only too happy to do so as I saw no other alternative. I never doubted the outcome, never doubted dad’s wisdom. Later on, I managed to graduate from an Ivy League school, and today hope to go back soon to earn a doctorate degree.
I believe Michele Obama when she talks about how pivotal a role education played in hers and president Obama’s life. I believe that without it we may have never had our current president. I believe that they are both proof of education’s power. I believe dad was right.
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