This I Believe

Howell - Woodberry Forest, Virginia
Entered on November 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Textbooks in Summer?

Aiqun, a seventeen-year-old student in China, is filling out his Harvard application, preparing for his debut in America. Aiqun asked my roommate, who travelled to China over the summer, to bring along some American science textbooks so that he could prepare further for college during his free time. Despite the extra twenty pounds of luggage, my roommate complied and Aiqun poured over the textbooks during the evenings, scrutinizing every word, and soaking up every diagram. I was completely flabbergasted when I heard this story. Who in their right mind would ask for extra textbooks to study during their summer? I have never even heard of anybody doing anything remotely on the same motivational and maturity level as Aiqun. This story forced me to realize that in today’s world, I cannot afford to be any less than I am capable of being.

After reading The World is Flat, my summer reading book by Thomas Friedman, I have come to realize that America is not in the center of the map and that there are over 6 billion people everywhere else working their tails off. Because of our newly globalized and competitive world, I will work to achieve, and eventually my goal is to become as concentrated and driven as Aiqun.

Marc Prensy, who wrote an essay titled “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” showed that today’s 21-year-olds have spent over 20,000 hours watching TV, 10,000 hours playing video games, and have sent or received 250,000 emails or instant messages. Fortune Magazine stated that one-hundred percent of Indians in the 2006 graduating class speak English. I’m not even sure a hundred percent of Americans speak English. In fact, it is predicted that, in ten years, China will be the number one English-speaking country.

I remember playing a childhood computer game, The Sims, in which I could control the daily routine of a simulated character. I could command my little pixel slave to buy a pet, build a house, play guitar, or ask the neighbor on a date. Gosh was I an idiot. Why did I spend all of my time in some stupid animated world when I could do the exact same activities in real life? Playing a guitar or asking a friend on a date in real life doesn’t require the clicking of a mouse button, and thus all of the “skills” I picked up in The Sims are now obsolete.

I now relate my “Sims skills” to the certain real world “American activities” that I spent a large amount of leisure time on. Being everything that you are capable of being does not include being the Fantasy Football champion of your twelve-person league. America has given us a great opportunity with such great school systems, so why not take full advantage of such a gift? If we work harder, we can learn to cooperate and associate ourselves with our competition. I have acknowledged our ambitious competition elsewhere, and I am choosing to work a little harder without as many “mental breaks.”