This I Believe

Biniam - Norfolk, Virginia
Entered on March 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Think…before it’s too late.

Since the fifth grade until graduation from high school, I was raised in a Christian boarding school and earned my respect as a polite gentleman. Growing up in a strict, Ethiopian family, good grades and good behavior were highly emphasized in my household. My whole life my family or my teachers always told me what to do and I obeyed. My life became monotonous and I lost focus of who I was. In eighth grade I discovered I learn from bad experiences and I believe that bad incidents in my life inspired me to change my lifestyle.

My school highly restricts the boys to visit the girls’ side and vise versa. An unprecedented mission in our school was succeeding to enter the other side. On one vibrant fall afternoon, the student body headed to the auditorium for an assembly program. My best friend, two of my female classmates and I integrated a plan to sneak into my dorm while everyone else attended the choir program in the auditorium. Our intensions were solely to give the females a tour of our dorm and skip assembly.

Eluding the crowd, we stomped through the dusty alley to the next building to access the back door. We felt like we were in a movie! We opened two locked doors and gave a grand tour of where we slept to where we took our showers. We laughed and giggled around the hall in excitement not realizing the seriousness our actions. Coincidently a room where everyone’s junk food is stored in our dorm was left unlocked. Our eyes gazed through the mountain of candy bars, drinks and cookies in awe, but our hands froze at our sides. We danced like monkeys in the little cubicle since we just encountered a pot of gold! In fifteen minutes we accomplished two missions students have attempted and failed countless times.

As we headed for the back door but a teacher had followed us and heard the noises we made in the dorm. Our little detour, which teachers blew out of proportion, threatened the possibility of us remaining at the school. The board members accused us of breaking and entering and suspected us of participating in sexual activity and threatened to call the police. We finally compromised to probation and several months of community service to earn our stay.

I felt disappointed at myself for underestimating authority and losing peoples respect. I had an incentive to excel in school and I made an A average for the rest of the year. I graduated four years later top three in my class. I can now attend any college of my choice and my tuition is covered by a scholarship I received through the school. My best friend and I had a paradigm shift while our two female classmates continued to plummet and unfortunately missed out on a great opportunity. Experience is the greatest tool for learning. Just in my freshman year in college I’ve encountered trouble with the law and lost a close friend to drugs. This I believe is now time for me to have a paradigm shift.