Youth Voices
Youth Voices
You Have the Power

I am the daughter of two immigrants. Before my parents decided to make the 8,500-mile journey across the world, none of my relatives had ever stepped foot off their homeland. My ancestors could only dream of a place named America, and they could only imagine what it was like. Growing up, I have heard many stories of the hardships and challenges that they faced along their journey.   

My parents did not have a pretty life growing up. From the young age of 6, my dad spent most of his days from sun up to sun down working away on his family’s farm. He knew the value of education, and once he was old enough, he made the one kilometer walk barefoot to school every day because he did not have enough money to afford shoes.

When he married my mom, they both knew that they wanted to create a better life for themselves, one in which they envisioned a future where their kids did not struggle in the ways that they did. So, they packed a suitcase, said goodbye to their family and friends, and left their old life behind. Many people told them they wouldn’t be able to do it. They doubted how far they would go. There were numerous times where they could’ve turned around and let the fear of what could go wrong control them, but instead, they kept going and remained optimistic for what was in store for them one day. Without that motivation and hope, they would not be where they are today. All my life, I have used their life story to inspire me at times when I feel like I’m not capable of achieving my goals and dreams. For example, when school gets me down, and I doubt my capabilities as a student and a learner, I realize I have everything I need to improve myself. Sometimes it’s as simple as a change in study habits, or changing my thinking patterns. I learned that if my parents were able to make such a big change and have success as an outcome, I am also able to, no matter how big or small the change is.

Backtrack to age 12, and I’m watching my mom stand on a big stage among many others with their right hands raised. There is a woman standing in front of the group, who says “Repeat after me…” and then begins to recite an oath. This is oath is a special one, because it’s not every day that you become a US citizen. As I stood there watching my mom repeat word after word with joy, I felt a flood of emotions, but most importantly, I was beyond proud. At one point in her life, she lived in a cramped house shared among 12 other people and spent countless nights hungry. Now she’s living her best life. One change my parents made proved to be the best decision they could ever make. I believe that everyone has the power to change the bad in their life into good. You have to be brave, and turn your back to fear. Despite what they say, you CAN turn your life around. Believe in yourself, work hard and make sacrifices, and the rest will follow through. All it takes is one simple dream, and one change or series of changes that can make a world of difference. You have the power.

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Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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