the power of one person

Maggie - St. Louis, Missouri
Entered on May 8, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in believing in myself. Oftentimes we get discouraged and stop trying to accomplish our goals and fail. We often forget what one single person can accomplish if she sets her mind to it. It is impossible to succeed if you fail to try. Sometimes things get in the way of our reaching our goals, but we must overcome these obstacles. One person, no matter how small, can make a huge difference in the world.

One person I admire and respect for her major accomplishments is Annie Sullivan. Annie Sullivan was the woman who taught Helen Keller how to read, write, and communicate through hand signals.

Helen Keller was born both blind and deaf. This disability caused all of the people who knew her lose hope about ever helping Helen able to communicate with the world. But Annie Sullivan, Helen’s nanny, had a strong dream: to help Helen. Annie knew that there had to be some way to teach Helen to communicate, and she was determined to find out how she could do that. Annie Sullivan made a promise to herself to accomplish her goal. She would not give up.

Annie Sullivan did accomplish her goal, but it wasn’t easy. It took her a long time and a lot of patience and understanding to figure out how to communicate with Helen. Annie taught Helen to use hand signs to communicate by running Helen’s hands under water and then spelling out the word with her hand. Eventually, after doing this with many objects, Helen understood this language and she was able to communicate with her hands. She also had Helen feel her lips and throat with her hand so that she could feel the vibrations of Annie’s voice, and so Helen Keller learned to speak with her mouth as well as her hands. Her accomplishments with Helen Keller showed that one person can achieve her dreams if she sets her mind to it and does not give up.

Annie Sullivan’s story has inspired me to do things that I have been told I am not able to do. In seventh grade, I was in pre-algebra. My school has two seventh grade math courses: pre-algebra and algebra. Pre-algebra is the normal class and algebra is the advanced class. I always really enjoyed math, but I was never very good at it until the last few months of my seventh grade year. I had a B in the class for the first two trimesters, but in the third trimester, something clicked in my head and I was suddenly a math whiz. I earned a 100.8 percent in the class, and my math teacher decided to recommend me for the advanced math course in eighth grade. It had been my goal all year. Everyone had told me that I would not be able to take advanced math, but I still believed in myself and tried a lot harder in math and I became very good at it. My teacher has moved me out of pre-algebra and into algebra so I can catch up with the all-year algebra students. I am very proud of myself that I could reach this goal, and it has showed me that I can do anything if I really set my mind to it.

One person, no matter how big or how small, can make a huge difference. Anyone can achieve their dreams if they set their mind to it. Never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. Vincent Van Gogh once said “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” If you believe in yourself and you are confident, you can be successful in whatever you choose to do with your life. This, I believe.