Rare circumstances led me to be born an ocean away. I was born in LA to Filipino parents who brought me back to their country to raise me. The only American in my family, I had a unique position: I belonged to two worlds. I have always known that I wanted to come back. I taught myself to speak like an American from watching TV. I felt American. It started out as a longing, but eventually I was able to come back to my birthplace in 2017
In tropical Philippines, the weather was hot and humid the entire year. Everyone had black hair and brown eyes and went to church. I have a loving family and a steady routine. Life should have been straightforward: I attend the same school I went all my life and get some stable job. That’s what everyone else does. But I believed my destiny led elsewhere. I want to be many things: an entrepreneur, a scientist, an engineer, a movie producer. If I stayed, I wouldn’t be able to achieve these things in the magnitude that I envision. In America, I have a chance.
The sheer vastness and diversity of America blew my mind. I felt tiny. From my airplane window, I marveled at the rough terrain of California and the flatness of Illinois. Upon arrival, I witnessed a whole array of people I have never seen before. Eventually, my amazement faded and I had to deal with the reality of my situation. I made a huge leap from a life of certainty to that of risk. I was like a newborn experiencing the world for the first time, but I also had to be both the teenager that I was and an adult in place of my parents.
When I first got to Illinois, I was freezing and it was late spring. I only wore a jacket back at home as a fashion statement, now I had to get an entirely different wardrobe. Snow was so pretty until I had to shovel the driveway. I had trouble figuring out how to work the dishwasher and the clothes dryer because we didn’t have those back at home. I had to enroll in a different school and figure out how to transfer credits and pick new classes. I was in a constant state of figuring things out. I was different, and I was lost.
I had to adjust to different surroundings, systems, and worldviews that challenged what I thought I knew. I’ve grown so much in such a short span of time. I had to be my own person, make my own decisions, and I wasn’t even an adult yet. The very core of my character, my strength and resilience, was tested every step of the way. In moments of self-doubt, I ask myself “is this all worth it?” Many times, I am tempted to say no. When eating the same salmon for dinner alone every day, I miss the home-cooked meals my family shared. But I look back to the past two years and see that because of my struggle I’ve matured. Now I know how to survive on my own.
The Philippines is rife with corruption, violence, and poverty. I am glad to have left as countless of my countrymen before me have. Ironically, the same dream that drove me to seek a better future elsewhere makes me want to return someday to better the country I left, armed with the skills I learn in America. After experiencing massive pollution growing up and moving to somewhere much cleaner, I would like to develop sustainable technology and gather the political will to make a difference. I made such an effort to live a new life somewhere else, so I believe I must strive to make life better for the places that made me who I am.
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High School Name:
Lisle High School