This I Believe

Shauna - Littleton, Colorado
Entered on November 9, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: gratitude, place
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This I Believe

Traveling to third world countries, trying new foods, experiencing new cultures is not typical for a 14 year old. I am lucky. Because my father is a pilot, I have the privilege to see and experience things that many of my friends can’t. It is an opportunity that I am fortunate to have.

I went to Thailand in 6th grade and to Vietnam in 8th grade, and they are still my favorite places. Both caused immediate culture shock. In America, we have the opportunities and the education and the enormous homes. Thailand and Vietnam were dissimilar.

When I was in Thailand, my family and I went trekking in the mountainous jungles. We were to stay at a place where the hill tribe members live. They lived in the mountains all their lives. Kids were running around with the farm animals and mothers, daughters, and fathers were hard at work. The women sewed and the men did the labor-intensive work. Small children bathed in a tin bucket outside. No mansions or Ferrari’s here.

In our trekking group, all 12 of us were to sleep in the small, hand-built bungalow. In the morning, all the kids were enthralled with my dad’s camera. He took pictures of them playing soccer barefoot with a rolled up shirt and chasing the farm animals. Crooked smiles and all, they loved looking at themselves in the screen in the back of the camera. Who knew? I thought to myself, these kids are so happy and grateful with the life they have. They know how to live their life. They do not need the 30,000-dollar sweet sixteen parties or the expensive cars to be happy. I realized they were the nicest, most unselfish children that I have ever met.

When we went to Vietnam last year, I met a young girl my age that made me realize even more how much I have in my own life. Her name was Hai, and amazingly, she spoke almost perfect English. I asked her if she went to school to learn how to speak so well and she said, “No, I learn from the tourists. I am too poor to go to school.” I had met her because she sold postcards to the people on the beach….all day in the scorching sun. I have yet to complain about school since then because I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn and do great things with my life, and I am careful about the money I spend on things that I don’t absolutely need. Here people are in this country, spending money left right and center to try to make them happy. Hai was surprisingly happy and she didn’t need fancy and expensive luxuries.

I believe that people need to appreciate what they have and be grateful for any opportunities that come their way. People must not get too wrapped up in materialistic things and try to live life to the absolute fullest. This I believe.