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Ernest Hemingway once said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” From going through twelve years of schooling so far, I’ve learned things far beyond the realm of the classroom setting that I’ve listened to and taken part in academically. I’ve learned about the people and the cultures around me. I’ve learned that the typical know-it-all attitude teenagers sometimes epitomize is a well-earned label that truly reflects their naivety. I’ve learned to navigate the inner-workings of a small business from my father’s tried and true wisdom, the emotional strength and endurance of the human spirit from my mother and what’s more, I’ve learned about myself, and how to feel joy from everyday experiences. When I think of a place where I am truly content, it isn’t just one place, rather, it’s a handful of places with one central feature, and that is the opportunity to learn.
I can’t deny I am without a doubt regretful of the fact that I didn’t find my safe haven to be a learning environment until the end of my sophomore year. My freshman year of high school is a mere blur (and I know, it was just three years ago), but everything was so unfamiliar. New school, new sports teams, new people, and I could not manage to keep my focus on one subject for more than a minute. Hence, my grades were much less than my standard of excellence which dictates my first years of high school. I had a hard time finding people that had the same interests, and mindset that I did. It’s baffling that moving from a different part of the state separates you immediately. Over time I like to think that the “different” qualities that I had only began to intensify, but I traveled outside my comfort zone day by day. I sought friends with broader interests and hobbies distant from the ones that I formerly enjoyed. I consider friends a learning experience too, because after all, I have learned almost as much from the people around me than from any textbook I have read.
Nonetheless, as I aspired to learn new things about the world and obtain as wide as a cultural knowledge base as I could, I threw myself into my studies. I remember on the first day of school my junior year thinking that I would work as slow as I wanted on an assignment in class so I could take it home and have homework. It’s a strange concept but I enjoyed it, I enjoyed learning so much I wanted to make the most out of it and extend it to truly consume my thoughts. The classroom truly was a small sanctuary and an asylum where someone cared about me and wanted to share all the information that they knew and I was their sponge. However, my love for the classroom setting isn’t to discredit my home life that, in actuality, has shaped my character piece by piece and sculpted me into the learner that I am today. Family dinners every night molded my views and ideas on a variety of subjects. I come from a line of engineers and businessmen, who’ve managed to engage in a variety of ventures. In my household, knowledge is power and when we aren’t gathered around for dinner, we’re reading, or studying. Learning is our release.
Luckily, the love that I’ve found for learning is a commodity I can take with me throughout the years, and one that will continue to forge my identity. I know that wherever I go, I will be able to slip into my own euphoria as I study new material, challenge new ideas, socialize with the cultures and people around me and ultimately become one who contributes by empowering others.
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