This I Believe

Hai - Sacramento, California
Entered on May 30, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: hope, setbacks

Optimism and Opportunity

I believe in the worth of effort, the fortune of opportunity and the pains of sacrifice. Two days before the Vietnamese New Year of 1989, I kicked and cried to my mother while living in the shelter of her stomach. She tells me I could not wait to see the fireworks and that this habit of impatience remains with me still. Thus, I was born two months before I was officially due – and like most children who struggle when they first learn new things, I struggled with breathing. My chance of living was as probably as flipping heads on a penny. Having lived only several weeks, I did not know the value of life but I knew I did not want to die. So, at four pounds, my first lesson in effort was in trying to live when given the opportunity to live. Thanks to my parents’ diligence and my grandparents’ savings, I was nourished with, according to my father, the “best milk” in a time when many people in Vietnam starved. I survived a month of being in intensive care in the hospital, as the incubator was my first home.

Roughly six years later in the winter of 1995, and at the tender age of five, a second opportunity presented itself to me. My parents and I boarded a plane to American in escape of the Communist regime. Prior to this however, we had to abandon our home and bid farewell to our extended family. My parents had no choice but to leave behind their beloved country in order for me to have a fruitful childhood. After setting foot in North Sacramento, the sole of my shoes became damp and white with snow. Ever since then, I promised myself that their sacrifices would not got to waste and instead would inspire me to mold nothing into something.

Because of my experiences, I have developed a belief that opportunity is a door which seldom opens, but when it opens, one must leave everything else behind to squeeze through. There will always be people who, through effort with praise and clarity without recognition, see opportunities when there seem to be none. And through the scope of this belief, I look at today’s current events.

Troubled by civilian bombings in Iraq, blind genocide in the Sudan, and the mountainous plutonium in North Korea, I must believe in what I believe. It is the belief that amidst all misfortunes, there will be the fortune to escape which one becomes grateful for. I see the American Red Cross flooding into a flooded New Orleans and Mohamed ElBaradei winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his safe use of nuclear energy. In tragedy there are opportunities to rebuild – as my parents did in America—and to breathe even when my lungs tighten up.

My life’s religion is defined by these invisible beliefs that are made visible by experience and honest reflection. I must believe in what