As a resident of Naples, Florida, it is plausible to make the assumption that the majority of kids I know are privileged, to a certain extent. Most do not understand the true meaning of poverty and being poor. An experience that has greatly aided in shaping my character was the time I traveled to my native country, Vietnam, the summer before my freshman year. I remember feeling disappointed since I would not be like other teenagers, spending the summer with friends. Looking back, the two-month trip was definitely worth it. What I learned and experienced on my trip affected who I am as a person and has without a doubt inspired me to live every day to the fullest and take advantage of all the opportunities offered.
Growing up in the Naples, Florida, a town full of high-class residents, you hear a plethora of stories about families struggling to get by. Stories about poverty, families who live on the streets, people who are unable to afford food or clothes, and people who work all day and all night for a small amount. The stories are always heard but never actually witnessed.
While on my trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I was able to witness the stories firsthand. I saw all sorts of people living on the streets: sick people, skinny people, old people, young people. While out one night, I saw a young mom sitting on the sidewalk, crying and cradling a sick infant with an abnormally large head. In Vietnam, there are numerous people who sleep on the streets, a sight that is not common in Naples. I was deeply affected, realizing that many people in the world were not as lucky to share the same privileges as I.
I also observed many individuals forced to work all day and night, attempting to earn as much money as possible. For example, every day at five in the morning and eleven at night, I would see the same female vendor around the age of seventy with a bamboo carrying a stick on her shoulders, with baskets filled to the brim with products. My heart went out to the lady, all skin and bones, heavily struggling to balance and carry a different commodity in the hot sun all day.
After witnessing the poverty within Vietnam, I feel and act differently. After realizing that there are those who do not get to experience what I do in Naples, I began to do more in school and in my community. As I began to appreciate the fact that I am luckier than most and have more opportunities than others, I began to take advantage of it. I became more active: playing more sports, joining more clubs, and volunteering more often. Additionally, I became more determined: studying harder to get good grades, practicing more to be a better player, and working more to provide for myself and to not take advantage of my parents.