ENGLISH 1101 OL40 with Prof. S.


Growing up, I had the privilege to experience education in the States and Abroad. In parts of Africa, most children do not have the luxury to be able to study or go to school full-time. Most kids would even drop out before they finished high school. Classes were not only hard and competitive, but they would post your grades regardless of the position you were in. Teachers and parents would make comments about how if you don’t study hard enough, you might end up like someone who got the least grades and you would never amount to anything. I grew up thinking you’re best was never really the best. Where you would have to compete with friends so you wouldn’t be the rant of the pack.

Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t always bad and we did get breaks that were very much needed. We would never get Vacations per se but we got ‘Breaks’, as in we had to go back to school most of the time in a month or 2 two at most. Personally, I didn’t like the way we were being taught in schools, because it was so cramped. The school would start for kindergartners and most other students at 8:00 am, but if you were 7th grade through 9th grade, school usually started at 6:00 am at my school because we ‘needed’ to have morning classes and if you didn’t come it meant that you were missing 30 mins of normal 8:00 class; By the way, these classes were paid for differently than normal schools fees that we had to pay. So basically if you didn’t have the money you would miss lessons that were essential for your graduation.

After 14 years of constantly competing with people in a literal life and death situation, I came to the United States with my average grades. I went to a school that would accept my conditions because we were being rushed and I needed to go to school immediately so my older sister could graduate on time. I didn’t really mind going to the school I went to because it was a totally different experience than what I thought ‘American Highschool’ would be like. During my time there with my sister I got to learn that although studying is important, I also need time for myself. I could barely sleep back in Africa because all my sisters were in a sense smarter. I always felt like I had to compete with people. I felt like I always needed to best someone. This took a negative impact on my health and it made me feel like whatever I did was not good enough.

If I could take anything from my time in Africa, I learned that though trying your best was important and looking forward to improving it needed, you should also take time for yourself and study at your own pace. Thankfully coming to America helped me focus on things other than studying; it helped me realize that though you might be as good with things as others you could just divert your focus to things that you might be good at. Also failing doesn’t mean the end of the world, but you can take failing as a lesson to find out the things you are good at and build yourself up with that because your best should only matter when you give it you’re all.

1 Comment

  1. Sarah Schmerler

    Such pressure! We feel that from the first paragraph. And you have us hooked. The second paragraph is fascinating in that it shows us the lifestyle and gives us details, only its structure needs some work in that the details aren’t so clear. These are small things that can be adjusted in your final draft.
    This sentence is so powerful: “After 14 years of constantly competing with people in a literal life and death situation, I came to the United States with my average grades.” Thing is, we don’t know more — what do you mean? Can you explain a little bit?
    Overall, I think there is the making for a powerful narrative here. My suggestion: a few more details, specifics. And also, don’t feel at the end that you need to wrap things up in a neat bow. Your story will be interesting just as it is, and the lessons of failure and personal challenge will come out naturally. Yes, you can Tell us these lessons as you do in the last paragraph, but Showing us will be what lasts in our memories.
    Good job, Brooke!

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