This I Believe

Antonina - Pleasant Hill, Iowa
Entered on February 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

This I believe.

Never say never. I believe that everything is possible in my life.

I grew up in a family, where we still had post-Soviet Union customs and beliefs. All of my grandma’s kids were expected to have only excellent grades at school and excel in other activities. So was I, as I lived with her. I had some situations when I worked hard, but thought that I wasn’t going to get resulted I wanted. But, it always worked out.

When I was in sixth grade, I was in music school in second grade. My music teacher told my parents that there was a city competition in classical guitar coming up in four months and I could try to compete. She said since I’m only second grader, not to be upset if I lost. My parents agreed with that, and I just started doing my best. The week before the competition, my principal at music school said that he didn’t want me to fail at this very important competition, and he also added that I shouldn’t take part in it. He put two guys in instead; they were in fourth and fifth grade music school then. I was very upset, but inside I understood that maybe that was a good idea, because I would never win this, being only at the second year of guitar education Three days before the competition, my principal called me again and asked if I still wanted to play, of course, my answer was “no”. But he begged me to play, and also said that he asked to put in three instead of two players from our school as required. I decided to play, because I worked hard for three months, and I skipped a couple school weeks to be more prepared. I was the only one who won that competition. The guy from fourth grade took third place, and another one took ninth. I couldn’t believe that that happened. Never say never.

I’ve never thought that I would be a foreign exchange student and live in the United States for one year. But now I’m here. I’ve never dreamed of going abroad; I would say more I was very scared to go somewhere far away from home. My mom wanted me to do it. Every time she came back from some trip, she was telling me lots of stories about life in different countries. Never say never.

In 2006, at summer camp I was told that Kazakhstan, my country, has a program for students to go abroad for one year. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to this information however, I told my mom that there was such an opportunity, and forgot about it. In September my mom said that I should call American Councils and find out when the tests to win a study abroad scholarship were going to be. I did so, and went to try for the competition. Finally I passed the first challenge; the next day was the second one. I was very sick, but still went there to pass it. At that moment it was just my interest in checking my knowledge of English that led me to take this test. After those tests, we were told that results for them would be not earlier than March.

In March, I was in Ust-Kamenogorsk city, north-east of Kazakhstan, at Country Championship in Sport Orienteering. One evening my mom called me, and told that I passed the second round, and would be interviewed to go to the United States of America. I didn’t believe her. But never say never.

I came back home and started to work hard on language skills. On the day of the interview, I was asked questions about different situations that I could possibly face being abroad, with a host family, and speaking different language.

I passed this step too, and kept working harder. I began to realize that everything is real and I could go abroad. The next step of the challenge was pre-departure orientation at the beginning of July. We lived in beautiful in mountains, had two Peace Corps Volunteers from the United States. One of them was from Iowa. She was very excited that I was chosen to go there. She told me a lot of interesting things about it.

All my five years of hard work on English, got to that point that now I’m able to improve my skills in it, in English speaking country. After these examples of my life I understood that everything is possible in my life.