This I Believe

Andrea - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 15, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

Recently, I attended a program titled Mastering Leadership with the National Student Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. This conference completely changed the way I view myself, and those around me. I re-learned the importance of ever-lasting relationships and people that affect your life.

It is not everyday that you go all the way to Washington, D.C. and meet a couple people there that will change your life, so I feel that this is a good example. Matt, Leigh, Colleen, and I had a tremendous connection the first time we hung out. We went everywhere together, through the museums, the meetings, and even those cheesy socials we were forced to go to. On Friday, the Mastering Leadership group went on a field trip to the Smithsonian Institute and the National Mall, where we were expected to group off into our own little groups and visit all the museums and stay inside the boundaries given to us. On this quest, Alina (quiet Russian girl) and Kayla asked to be apart of our group. Not even aware that we had formed a group, I yelled “Of course!” After visiting the Botanical Gardens we became really hungry just wandering around taking pictures when Colleen decided that she wanted Chinese food for lunch. Hastily, we all agreed and went on a quest for Chinese food. Little by little, we began out-stepping the boundaries by about 3 miles, searching for all these Chinese restaurants that we kept asking for directions too. Of course we all knew, but we had gone that far, so we figured we might as well get some Chinese food! Inside the restaurant, a couple of us started to freak out about getting caught. Getting caught breaking any of the NSLC rules is grounds for “immediate dismissal from the program.” So of course, I decided to joke around with quiet girls Kayla and Alina by getting them to formally agree to never speak of “this incident again.” When we finally made it back to the NSLC group, we were all relieved and we joked about it for the rest of the week about how we walked so far only to get Chinese food. At the end of the conference, Robert Pruitt (motivational speaker specializing in student leadership) asked if anyone had someone they wanted to thank, or reach out to, or to share their gift with someone else by opening up. So, there we all are, quiet, nervously looking around, when little miss Alina walks to the front of the room and quietly says. “I would just like to thank Andrea, and the rest of her friends for walking around D.C. with me and really caring about how I was feeling and how much fun I was having when we went to the Chinese food place,” she started to cry, “It meant a lot to me that you wanted to hang out with me and to be my friend. No one has ever done that for me before, and I appreciate you being my friend.” I started crying. I was shocked. I had never known that the smallest acts of consideration (that I would make to anyone) ended up changing someone’s life. Both of us crying, I ran up and gave her the biggest hug in front of everyone and I said “You’re welcome.” It was definitely the most life-altering, powerful moment in my life. Never have I felt that I ever had any affect on anyone else. Now I know that showing compassion for others in any amount can alter someone’s life.

I believe in love and compassion for others and I will prove it for the rest of my life.