Ten years after immigrating to America, one of my friends advised me to earn a college degree instead of working hard in restaurants. I did not know if I could get good grades at college, but she encouraged me and said if I tried hard, I could change my life. I listened to my coworker’s advice and started my career at Tidewater Community College in Virginia. I believed that I probably could earn a degree and then find a better job.
At the beginning, I needed to take some English as a Second Language classes. The reading and writing in the last semester were difficult to me. I did not understand what the reading was about. Also, I needed to write a research paper for the writing class, and I had not done this before.
Because I had problems taking two classes at the same time, I dropped the writing class and concentrated on the reading class. I decided if I failed, I would quit going to school. I believed even though I studied hard, I would not get good grades. Nonetheless, I was surprised at the end of the semester. I made a good grade on the final, so I passed the reading class. I was very excited and believed that my hard work had paid off.
Subsequently, I took the writing class another semester and passed it as well. I experienced two challenges and both of them were a success. Since then, I have confidence to deal with difficult conditions.
The confidence from my previous experiences makes me feel that I will be rewarded if I keep trying. Whenever my confidence wanes, I remember when I took a difficult computer class that was hard for me. I asked my professor how to do the homework, but he told me to drop the class because I had problems keeping up with the class work. After talking to him, I was struggled with my decision between dropping and keeping the class.
At the same time, I remembered a fable that teaches Chinese elementary students to behave well in China:
Once upon a time, a man sharpened a big piece of metal outside of his house. A person passed by and asked what he was doing. He said that he wanted to make a needle. The pedestrian laughed at him and said that the man wasted his time sharpening the metal. The man said that if he kept working on it, the piece of metal would become a needle one day.
I asked myself when I remembered the fable, am I that man? Is my career the piece of metal?
I decided not to drop the class, worked hard on the homework, and finally earned an A for the class. The computer professor was surprised, but I felt that I deserved the grade because I had worked hard in the class.
In China, many people like to use pine trees that grow on the slope of mountains despite rainy, windy, or freezing days to represent those people who are successful in difficult conditions. I believe I am a pine tree that keeps pursuing my career and never gives up.