This I Believe

Danielle - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on October 24, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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This I Believe

I believe in smiles. All smiles–happy, sad, bitter, sweet. They all speak a common language to me. In a time when I could not understand verbal language, I communicated through smiles, and it is through a smile that life begins.

I was born in Chicago, a U.S. citizen, and grew up speaking both English and Chinese. When I was around 5 years old, my parents decided to go back to China to stay a while, and they brought me along with them. In the time that I lived in China, I had no other choice but to speak in Chinese, and so my young 5 year-old mind quickly forgot English. When I returned to my beloved hometown a year later, I found myself stepping back into a familiar yet foreign world.

The first day of school upon returning to the states was miserable. I couldn’t comprehend the strange syllables they spoke, nor could they comprehend my unresponsive silences. Other children kept their distances, and I was left to myself. I would have probably remained like that, alone and silent, had it not been for one person. My teacher walked over and took my hand. She didn’t say a single word, but instead, gave me an incredibly warm smile that seemed to say a simple “Hello.” Just that one smile brought me immense encouragement and I returned it with a truly thankful one.

From that day forward, I arrived to school everyday wearing a bright smile on my face. Other students began to understand me through my smile because, to me, a smile speaks more than words. It’s a universal language, one that everyone can understand.

That is why I believe in smiles.