Congratulations to the talented students who won the 2013 Laws of Life Essay Contest!
BBB honored the Laws of Life finalists at our annual banquet where finalists received their awards and presented their winning essays. Our winners below worked extremely hard, and BBB thanks them along with all those who participated in this year's Laws of Life Essay contest!
The following is a list of 13 finalists / winners of the 426 entries submitted.
Robert Trevino with his essay, Learn From The Past
James Daley with his essay, The One Who Wants...
Laura Kwon with her essay, A Helping Hand
Hunter Schenk with his essay, The Choice
Brooke Casey with her essay, Once Neglected
Alyssa Quintero with her essay, Consequences of Living
Edward Johnston with his essay, Laziness and Procrastination Equal...
Lillian Ngu with her essay, Treat Others The Way...
Joselyne Ibarra with her essay, Just Looking for Compassion
Samantha Garza with her essay, Validating Transformation
Michael Wood with his essay, Keys of LIfe
Sam Harper with his essay, Courage Counts
Aaron Mayfiled with his essay, Do The Right Thing...
Like any person my age, the word "traveling" is enthralling. Many have tried it, whether internationally or locally. But to me, a 15 year old, it was always a word that linked to a dream, a word I never experienced the true meaning of. A son of two extremely busy workers, brother of 6, I was the only one I knew who just never traveled, never even got on a plane. "Why?" you may ask. Well it's simple, my family just couldn't afford it. So I waited, and waited, and waited till the day came, the day I've always wanted: the day I'm going to see a new world. I'll get a new perspective.
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It was July 1st, 2011, when both my parents shocked me with their decision. "Son, we both think it's time for you to finally accomplish one of your dreams. You're going to Europe!" I stayed quiet for a few seconds. Not knowing if this was one of the dreams I'd always had and I was going to wake up, but when I didn't, I just started shouting and, yes, cursing! I was so happy, the happiest person in the world. The day finally came, I was going to travel, to get on a plane. Now another person would've probably asked instantly where they're going, but I didn't care. Turned out, I was going to the UK to take an English course in one of the most popular institutes there: St. Giles. Two weeks later, I had my visa, passport, bag, and everything I was ever going to need to survive all by myself. And the crazy part that everyone was impressed with was I wasn't even a bit scared. Traveling all by myself is part of the process of me becoming independent. The independent man I've always aspired to be.
8 hours on a plane. 8. Hours. It was the most boring 8 hours of my life and I didn't know what to do. I usually take advantage of the time where I'm not doing anything and DO something. But I couldn't do anything. It was too crowded to sleep. Too noisy to read. And the food was just toodisgusting to eat. It was not the way I imagined my first time on an airplane to be. But the second I got off the plane, it was just magical, I had a new feeling. A feeling I can never find words to express.
Living in Saudi Arabia for as long as I could remember, I was mesmerized by the silliest things. Raindrops on roses. Taxis. Even Skyscrapers! Which I found out later is an object that impressed people. I found my way to an old man holding a yellow sign that said "St. Giles" and hopped in the taxi with him. I overwhelmed him with my questions but he answered them all. Before I got off, I asked him for advice and he gave me a great piece that I'll remember for as long as I remember; "Leave a good impression of your culture on the countries you are visiting." Throughout the story, you'll now how I much I treasure that advice.
Two weeks in, met some of the most sophisticated people in my life. Hung out with the funniest, most passionate teachers in the world. Learned about so many cultures: French, Italian, Spanish and Indian. It was all so fascinating. But the part that really wasn't what I expected were the people of my country. The place was filled with Saudis. I was happy that we all could be a good example of our country, but it was the complete opposite.
They were obnoxious, arrogant, ill-mannered…they did things I never knew anyone could do. To girls, to guys, even to teachers. They had no respect whatsoever and people were disgusted by them. Whenever I tried to be talk to someone and they found out I'm Saudi, they just slowly backed off. That's when I realized that I can make a change. Even if it's going to be hard, I will. I'll just go and apologize to everyone they ever insulted in the camp. And I did. I just went to them and said: "Hey. I just want to apologize on behalf of my country and I want you to know we're not all bad." That seemed to impress everyone. I gained friends in a matter of days when before, I'd tried to in two weeks and never succeeded. And most importantly, I did leave a good impression before I left the place. The trip changed me. It gave me a focus. A drive. A goal. And it's really important because a life without meaning, without drive or focus, without dreams or goals, isn't a life worth living. It made me realize and understand a quote I've always read, but before that trip never understood. "You don't get to pick where you come from but you always have control of where you're going." It was indeed a trip of a lifetime.
"Trip of a Lifetime"