This I Believe

Matthew - Bee Branch, Arkansas
Entered on September 28, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that bringing out the best in others ultimately brings out the best in me, and that is the driving force that motivates me to live each day to the fullest. Over the course of my experiences in working alongside people of diverse backgrounds, I realize the underlying significance is not necessarily how many hours you contribute, but how you inspire the lives you touch in the process. Small things do indeed make the difference, and thinking globally while working locally is truly the best way to make that difference.

Gayly southpawing my way up from our single-wide trailer home and the neighborhood meth labs in my rural Missouri hometown of Dexter to my little lawless liberal arts college in sunny Sarasota while soaking up corporate-redneck culture in Bentonville, I have experienced life in some pretty eclectic places, including my current residences in the most ass-backwards vaudeville town of New Orleans and the howdy-neighbor homestead of Bee Branch, Arkansas. Of course, I cannot forget my summer stint in Greece where I was schooled in studio art and local history, only later to end up at Harvard studying the science behind the art, with an honors thesis on tattoos thrown in there for a bachelor’s degree along the way.

Throughout these twists and turns in my life, I have always remained steadfast to my Southernly-hospitable-yet-bluntly-honest roots and have continually adapted these roots to acclimate in my surroundings–growing and learning from each experience. These roots–I attribute to my parents, who are my best friends. While neither of them graduated from high school, their character and diligence have been a profound inspiration to me, their only child. Despite their life struggles and difficult upbringings, my parents have worked hard to achieve success in their lives, and in turn, they have given me the gift of their life experiences to help motivate me to realize my own aspirations and dreams. They have taught me the most important life lessons and have passed on those personal qualities and values that cannot be learned in any classroom. Moreover, my folks have shown me that the education of life experience is paramount to making a progressive difference in this world.

Granted life in this world has seemed chaotic at times, but the one catharsis I have found in the madness of it all is service learning. Wherever my life’s journey has taken me, I have always discovered my niche through community service and education, whether it be performing random acts of kindness, tutoring and teaching, or just lending my hands and ideas to better our society. As a result, I believe I have the ability to see the good in all people, and I have striven to bring out the best in others, because in return, it brings out the best in me. We all possess the divine gifts of passion and inspiration, and the best way to make an impact in our communities is to selflessly share those remarkable gifts with others.