Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
Before applying to my middle and high school, a single-sex public school that houses grades 6-12, as a mere fifth grader, my world was small. I went to school, saw people that came from families with the same socioeconomic status as mine, went home, did my homework, and went to bed. I was hardly involved in any activities, so I didn’t meet new people often. I was comfortable in my bubble. I didn’t understand how great of an impact the acceptance into my new school would soon have on my life. Shortly after the new school year started, I began meeting people from all over my hometown whose lives were completely different from mine. I soon realized that not everyone had grown up the same way I had. One of my classmates in particular has impacted my life the most. Her effect on my life was most noticeable when she moved in with my family during my sophomore year of high school.
Ebheni moved in with my family in October 2015 when she needed help getting to school and volleyball practices because her family lived across town. Directly after she moved in, I began learning from her. The first thing I learned was that Ebheni’s background is very different than mine. We come from different parts of the state, from different families, and from different cultures. She often has a different point of view about social topics or events that happen at school. Because of this, I often find myself turning to Ebheni to ask her opinion about topics ranging from global issues to whether or not she liked the lunch she ate that day. I have noticed that since she moved in with us, I search for new perspectives everywhere, not just when I’m with her. I enjoy hearing my classmates’ opinions on different social issues because their perspectives open my eyes to new ways of thinking. I actively research biased and unbiased news articles so I am not stuck in a bubble of my own partiality. I have discovered a new interest in learning why others think the way they do and how their backgrounds have shaped them.
My school teaches leadership as an important life skill. For a long time, I thought I didn’t possess the qualities to be a leader. I thought there was a cookie cutter definition of how one is supposed to lead; they must be outgoing, loud, and extroverted. In fact, I was wrong. The second lesson I learned from Ebheni is a leadership quality my school allowed us to learn on our own: people lead in different ways. Ebheni is one of the most outgoing people I know, qualifying her, by my original definition, to be a great leader. I, however, am not quite as extroverted as her, nor as extroverted as the stereotypical leader. From viewing mine and Ebheni’s leadership roles on our volleyball team and at school, I’ve realized that I can be quiet and a leader the same way others can be loud and leaders. These leadership qualities balance each other out in the long term.
The experience of having Ebheni become apart of my family is one I will remember for the rest of my life. Not only have I learned more about someone I only knew as a classmate and teammate for most of my middle and high school career, but I have also learned a lot about myself. From Ebheni, I have learned the importance of diversity of thought and background, and how to keep an open mind. I have turned disagreements into learning experiences, and I don’t immediately shut out those who are expressing beliefs I disagree with. Also from Ebheni, I have learned the importance of variety in leadership. My quieter form of leadership is just as important as a louder, more outgoing form of leadership.