I Believe

Victoria - Stockton, California
Entered on February 22, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in perseverance. I believe when a person can disregard grim circumstances, disregard comments of people saying “you can’t,” and keep thinking “I can, and I will,” then that person is bound for success. Yes, perseverance is the ability to continue on when the circumstances may seem grim. But it is also a leaning process that tests your limits. In order to persevere you must be able to turn every mistake and failure into a learning experience, be willing to risk everything you have, fail, and try again from the beginning with a new perspective and even more determination than before. I believe in perseverance because if Martin Luther King Jr. had given up the first time he was jailed, what would he have accomplished? If Albert Einstein had given up after his teacher asked him to drop out of elementary school, we might not have the theory of relativity. If every writer gave up every time he or she couldn’t think of the right word to use we wouldn’t have any of the great works of Shakespeare, Twain, Poe, and Fitzgerald. I believe in perseverance because if everyone gave up at the first sign of hardship, or after their first fall, or their first mistake, the world would be filled with a bunch of lazy, half-willed, incompetent, mediocre people. But most of all I believe in perseverance, not because my parents have told me to, but because I see it in my parents. It is how they have gotten to where they are today, and if they did not persevere, I would not be here today.

Throughout my childhood and even till this day, I have always enjoyed hearing my dad’s stories about his life growing up. His grandfather was a shipping tycoon in China who became so wealthy that he had rooms of people to count his money. However, when the communists took over, my great grandfather and grandpa fled to Hong Kong with bullions of gold strapped to themselves. It was in Hong Kong that my dad was born, the second youngest of five children. After several unsuccessful business ventures, my grandfather’s fortune dwindled away. By the time my dad reached nineteen and wanted to come to America for college, he was only given a couple hundred dollars, a small amount for such a large trip, and definitely not enough to pay for college.

Upon arriving in the US my dad enrolled at UC Berkley and immediately took up various jobs to pay his way through college. Throughout the school year he held various jobs from being a bus boy to a valet worker. During the summer he worked full time at an epsin salt factory, where he had to lift and stack 100 pound bags of epsin salts. It was at this factory that he twisted his back and although it healed, it has never been the same since. During his first two years in the US he did not have a car and had to use public transportation to get to his jobs. His parents were not there to support him and offer advice, he did not have a family to come home to or a mother to cook every night for him, and besides working to support himself and pay for school, he also had to keep up his grades.

Although he came to the US knowing some English, there were cultural barriers he had to overcome. He was unfamiliar with America’s favorite pastimes such as football and baseball and had to endure snide remarks about his “Chinaman” accent. Yet through this all, my father persevered without ever compromising his integrity. He kept up his grades, graduated from Berkeley, and went on to graduate school where he graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Because of his perseverance my dad was able to become a dentist, a job that he thoroughly enjoys. He speaks fluent English, Mandarin, and Cantonese, yet most importantly to me, he serves as a loving fatherly figure. Had he given up after finding out he would have to take menial jobs to pay for college, or after he twisted his back, or after the first snicker at his accent, where would he be today? Although he has never directly said to me “you have to persevere to get things done and accomplish your goals,” he serves as living proof to me that through hard work and perseverance you can overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers.