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All the Small Things

Personal Memoir

To say that I knew there was more than North America was an understatement. I had never lived outside the Texas’s borders. I was aware that there were seven continents, but learning what was living within the chunks of land was the mystery to me. At first, I was not willing to learn about the different civilizations. The culture shock was all I needed to change my opinion on the world.

In Texas, I never went into the depth of my friends’ identities. I did not see the need to learn where they came from. The fact that they were congenial satisfied me. Most of the people I had known from the first grade came from a Mexican background. Learning more about their heritage was not at the top of my to do list. It never occurred to me that I could learn so much more about the world around me from the people I had known for more than half of my life. 

Just after I had begun the sixth grade, I was informed that my family and I are moving to an entirely different continent. At the time, Dubai was not a city to me. Dubai was some nonexistent area that would never feel like home to me. I did my best to display my despondent emotions toward the thought of moving to my parents. They were unfazed by my actions or emotions. My heart felt as if it was being ripped out at the thought of leaving behind the friends I grew up with or the family I loved more than anything.  

Finally entering Dubai, I was less than pleased with knowing that I had stepped foot into a country I barely knew but still hated. I did not hate the country for its scenery. I hated that I was taken away from my true home. At the time, I did not have time to truly open my eyes and see the new side of the world that I had just stepped foot upon. I did not take advantage of my chance to learn from the new culture. 

I recollect taking my first steps at the  American School of Dubai (ASD). Bitterness had possessed my body. I was the stiff, impassive new student that everyone seemed eager to meet. The enthusiasm of my future classmates bore me. I presumed that they were faking and just wanted me to feel comfortable before they forgot me an hour later. To be polite, I faked a smile every minute or two. I waited patiently for them to get over the fact that I was new and move on with their habitual lives. I thought they were rich snobs who thought they were better than anybody else. My conjecture was not met. The ASD students were much more than the money their parents harbored. I was uninformed of how altruistic these people really were. If I could go back in time, I would have ameliorated my first impression.  I would work hard to show my imminent classmates that I was only half as likable as they truly were.

The guilt of not knowing a single thing about Vietnam had grown and overwhelmed my entire body. Following the guilt was the shame of not knowing what to do in the home country I have never visited (until now). I knew a few words but not enough to have a decent conversation. I looked like an expert to all of my classmates. Inside, I felt like I was in the middle of a classroom and I was being given a question I had no answer to.  I have never truly realized what I was missing out on until the school trip to Vietnam. 

The Vietnamese children seem auspicious to have wonderful families and a wonderful culture, but they are not as fortunate when involving homes and education. After one good look at the school, I suddenly became aware of how blessed I was to live a life and earn an expensive education at a new campus. These children were not as lucky. The paint was slowly cracking and peeling off of the walls. The classrooms only had four or five little desks that seated ten children each. The chalkboards were dusty and the chalk was a grey white color. I constantly wondered how all of these children still manage to smile everyday.

After painting the building blue and teaching the children some basic English, my friends and I had stepped out to take a break and breathe the fresh air. As I was sitting on the stairs, I had noticed two boys. One of the boys was wearing a black jacket and brown pants. The scowl on his face seemed permanent and in sync with his clenched fists. His friends surrounded him like a pack of hyenas. The boy facing him was wearing a tattered, orange shirt. His eyes revealed fear. I questioned what had caused both of these dire expressions to take its place on two young children’s faces.

As I walked over, shirts were being yanked, knees were getting scratched, and pants were being ripped by the hard surface of the sand. Their self-control had drifted until I forced them away from each other. I could barely present my concern with my words. Not a single teacher was their supervising the children. No one else could’ve been there to prevent the situation from getting worse. I couldn’t help make this right. 

The differences in lifestyle riddled my thoughts on America. I began to wonder if my home was as perfect as I had believe. I was gradually learning that I was too quick to critique the parts of the world unknown to me. This was the perfect time for me to change my perspective on the world that was still unknown until now. 

If I had been willing to learn and accept the Dubai life, I would’ve enjoyed my time there much more. Hating the city made it harder for me and only me. If I had tried my best to learn Vietnam culture before, I could’ve helped both of those children after their brutal fight. I had never justly deepened my view on the littlest things. It took me so long to realize that even though everyone can be treated equally, but we should still recognize the differences.

    Can you turn on the light,