Whether one wants to believe that it happened by chance or that some contributory hand of fate caused it, the influences in my life have specifically (and in my opinion purposefully) tailored me into the individual that I have gown into.
My parents are undoubtedly the most intelligent people I have ever encountered. I say that with the utmost substance, in a way that could not be more genuine. I choose the word intelligent to describe them because in my mind, the word encompasses what it means to be all types of smart. They are the type of clever that includes the ability to succeed in school and trades, to excel with people, to demonstrate inquisitiveness, to be perceptive, and to view life in a holistic way that puts everything into perspective. My dad always taught me the importance of listening to what people have to say, the importance of enjoying all life has to offer. While my mom, the woman with the biggest heart in the entire world, instilled a desire to use what I have been given to challenge the status quo, to make a change for the better.
If you told me two years ago that the random elective that I was placed into was going to even make me think, let alone have a profound impact on my life…I probably would have laughed in your face. However, as life often goes, I was taken by complete surprise. While I was a senior in high school I had the distinct honor of being a student in Dr. David Campbell’s world religions class. Never in my life was I more enthralled by lecture, more determined to allow the insight of a person to penetrate my head and saturate my brain. A particular sentence that he said sticks out above all others. He told us that a person finds his passion when he encounters something for which he is willing to suffer, something for which he is willing to do anything for.
Well Doc C, I’ve found it! I’ve found it, and then some. Casa Del Alfarero deserves to be recognized. Its mission warrants the organization to be put on a pedestal for the world to observe, and hopefully duplicate time and time again. By identifying and targeting the eight forms of poverty, Casa Del Alfarero aims to provide specific programs to empower people to conquer the circumstances in which they’ve been born into. This mission is something that I whole heartily love being a part of, something that encompasses everything that I have been taught and influenced to value, something that I’d do almost anything to see succeed.
Four times a week, we give English classes to five young people who have the opportunity to travel to the United States in June to visit their sponsor families. Each of them has to write a 4-5 page testimony about how Casa Del Alfarero has impacted their lives. We had them first write it in Spanish, then aided them with the translation. Let me tell you…never have I been more moved then while translating these papers. Every so often, I have to fake a cough or quickly turn my head away to get a perplexed frown out of my system, before facing them once again with a smile. The first boy whose testimony I translated is named Jonathan, he grew up with his family relying on the garbage dump. Two f his brothers died of disease before reaching adulthood. I read the sentence in which he was describing the death of his brothers, and was completely taken aback. For one, he used the Spanish verb ‘faltar’ for ‘to die’ and I had never seen that verb used in such a way. So, I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant. But then after asking Nicol and reading the context…the truth hit me. I think it physically pained me just translating this sentence. But, I also knew that the world needed to hear his story…
I want to make it clear though, that this boy was not playing on the unfortunate life to get sympathy or charity. His testimony spoke of his unfaltering faith that God’s plan for his life was one that was sure and right. He did not dwell, on or even seem to realize, how many terrible things had happened to him. But instead, wrote page after page about the opportunity for education and love that Casa Del Alfarero and his sponsor parents have presented with him with. Like my good friend Ana Chang told me… “You come to Casa del Alfarero thinking you’re going to help people, but they end up helping you.”
The second testimony I translated was that of the 24 year old girl Susy. This testimony is the one that legitimizes Casa del Alfarero’s mission, the one that proves that success is possible. Susy grew up near the dump, her dad being an alcoholic. Susy studied hard in school and eventually was able to attain a scholarship to a better private school provided by her sponsor parents and Casa. She conveyed to me that her first few years in the private school were very hard for her because everyone else attending had so much money. She was the only poor kid in the entire school, and because of this no one wanted to associate with her. She admitted to me that she came home crying almost everyday, and was ready to quit countless times. She knew though, that if she stayed strong, she would be able to be a model for all the other kids coming out of the dump. So she studied, fought through, and eventually graduated high school with high honors. She earned a place in the University, and was also granted a scholarship. She graduated college, and now works as a teacher… free from the grip of poverty and out of the dump. Education…Opprotunity…Success…Freedom…
I used to think that peace of mind came from ignorance…from not knowing. I used to think that a free mind, a completely satisfied being was only possible if one was unaware of the injustice that exists. Although this isn’t completely wrong, I know now that this mindset is not even close to correct. Peace of mind comes from working as hard as you possibly can, using your talents, to improve the world. I am in no way insinuating that people need to give money or time that they don’t have. I don’t believe people should give easy handouts. I do think that something as simple as being passionate about what you do on a daily basis is good enough to make the change needed.
Many times when I write, I find that I don’t even know what I have sat down to convey until I am finished. Before I start, I just know that I have the desire to share a story with whoever decides to give up the time to read. I believe in the strength of words. I believe that through their complete disregard for boarders of all kind, they have the capability to share thoughts and influence lives throughout humanity.
I hope this post has found you all well!
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