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Teachingh Through Travel

Experiencing Humanity

USA | Monday, 21 April 2014 | Views [192] | Scholarship Entry

I was born and raised in an impoverished neighborhood where most of my peers either ended up in prison or dead. My father was a hard worker, but fell into the gang life at a young age. When I turned eleven, I followed in his footsteps hoping so badly to feel like a member of a community that cared about me. Unfortunately, I had no idea how that lifestyle would affect me.
Weeks after my fourteenth birthday, gang violence became a very real and devastating concept when my father had been shot. I sat in the hospital next to him in deadening silence. He struggled to speak, but managed to say “Don’t end up like me. There is so much more out there for you.” He then proceeded to reach at his side and pull out a small bag. He ordered me to tell me story and “make something we can be proud of.”
The bag contained a small camera with a quote scribbled on a napkin "It always seems impossible until its been done." (Mandela). I didn't know what to do with it at the time, but he was confident that I could express myself and make something important out of something so simple. The next day at 12:32 p.m. he passed away.
I followed my father's wish and moved out of the neighborhood to escape the dangers of gang violence. I proceeded to travel across the United States, all the while documenting my trip through pictures of my journey. Meeting people from all walks of life was incredibly rewarding, but also very concerning.
I realized that there were many people with backgrounds similar to mine and that their stories weren’t being told. After some thought on the issue, I began a program called New Life Focus under Youth4Truth Media. Though the program is small, I do my best to lend a voice to the voiceless by giving at-risk youth the opportunity to express themselves and their own journeys through photography. More recently, I have begun to realize the importance of having a written element to the photography to make a more personal connection. My goal is to teach the children the necessary writing skills to pair with their photographs in hopes that they pass the knowledge on to others.
So, how did I end up here?
The answer is simple. It was determination and desire. It was hard work and pain, but above all, it was hope.
The greatest lesson I have learned is that sometimes taking the "wrong path" is the only route to the greatest of destinations.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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