The One Teacher Who Can Change a Life

OC Essay Assignment
I suppose it can be considered a coincidence or a simple drawing of fate that I wounded up living next to my neighbor, Denia. Even as a child, I remember her peering out from her kitchen window to see what kind of crazy adventure I was up to with my pink bike named Misty. She was always there watching me grow, play, and becoming the woman, I am today. She became a mentor, always peering out that window into my life and helping me through my spiritual and personal journey. She became what Erwin Chemerinsky described as the “one teacher [who] can redirect a life” and she became my Earl Bell. Throughout my childhood, she has taught me the importance of giving back to the community, having faith in God, and having passion to live a great life.
As a child, I never truly understood the importance of giving back to the community that I lived in for years. I always thought I was entitled to Misty, my time, and the things that were given to me. I was a child who was selfish and never really thought of anyone but herself. However, that all changed when I met Denia. With her talent in cooking food, she would feed all the people of our church community with homemade meals and devote her time in watching young children in her care. She would encourage me to help her in her time in making meals and watching the children as they play and eat. Her sacrifice in helping others taught me the significance of lending one’s time to helping others. She was selfless, kind, and resilient. She was everything I wanted to be as both a woman and a person. In time, I learned to practice the act of giving back by devoting my time in missionary work in child evangelism organizations and getting involved in food distribution centers to help the feed the homeless. Without her dedication in motivating me to become a better person, I would still be that child who thought only of herself.
Another contribution that Denia made in my life was through her faith in God even through the most difficult of times. As a 15-year-old teenager, I was battling with my confidence and lacked the ability to stand up for myself against the bullies of my high school. In that period of self-loathing, I almost abandoned my faith in who I was and stood for as a Christian. Instead of letting me walk away from my faith, Denia, took me on the side and asked why I was looking depressed. I told her of the problems that was going on with the threats, name-calling, and teasing of some of my classmates. She took the time to listen and confide in my struggles. She prayed with me and stood by me when I did not even believe in myself. She showed me through actions the act of God’s love and what it truly means to be believer. I had to remember that a believer believes that all things work for good for those who love the Lord and that stood by me throughout my transition into an adult.
At the age of 18 years old, I finally became a “legal” adult. I had my first job, was applying to universities, and was graduating high school. I had everything going for me except for one thing, passion. I lacked the passion in doing the things I thought were helping me succeed in life. I thought I had to go to college, get a degree, and pray that everything works out in the end. It was a mundane and lifeless mind warp to think and behave in a mechanical way like hundreds of other students in my high school. I wanted more than the mundane or mechanical ways of life, what I wanted more than anything was passion for living life to the fullest. Denia showed me how to find the passion by first loving and accepting myself. Whenever I got home from work or school, she would wave down from her kitchen window and ask how my day went with a lively voice. In addition to her friendly smile, her son and two godsons would wave down in the next window with joy in their eyes and great big smile. They had passion for living life in the simplest but kindest way possible. I needed their energy and positivity to make it through another day and complete my college applications for review. They are the reason why I wanted a career with children. It was not just my love for children that drove my passion, it was that passion for changing lives and they sure did change mine for the better.
When I look back at my life, I see how Denia changed me in the most vibrant ways possible. She helped shape me into wanting to become a teacher and brought me back to life so to speak. I would not know where I would be without her today, still checking her kitchen window, waiting to ask how my day went or how my family was getting along. I find it crazy that a simple twist of fate can magically send an angel living right next door to me. She redirected me from a dark place to a place filled with passion and energy. An energy I want to give away to the next student I interact with through my career and church activities. This is why I have the passion and this is why I want more out of this life.

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