Abel held my hand tightly as we sat on the steps of the Washington Memorial. Last summer was a life-transforming experience for both of us. The Hugh O’Brian Youth World Leadership Congress held in
“I want to be a teacher,” Abel cupped my sweaty August hands in his cool calloused touch. “Then, I will be able to inspire people to achieve what I can’t. But if everyone went about taking on such noble a job, then there’d be no students. So Judy, you can be my student today. I want you to listen to this tape and be somebody who can write something like this and change the world for people like me,” he pressed the play button on his tape recorder. That morning over orange juice and toast, Jason, our team facilitator had read an article from the Harvard Crimson about inspiration to Abel, and apparently Abel had taped it – for me. “Just like you are now the leader of the National Team from
probably never see Abel again. Abel was blind. Yet his blindness was only physical; my blindness had been all but physical. Before meeting Abel, I had been blind of my own potential and my responsibility to achieve what I can achieve. He lit up my vision to my goals and aspirations; I became his student not for that day only, but for life. It is unfair that a person like Abel might never even get a college education. However it would be a greater injustice, a greater evil for me to squander my chances of achieving something that I have the capability to achieve. The only way I can thank my teachers, namely Abel, is by ensuring that they are able to achieve great things through me; and the things I myself cannot achieve, I must inspire others to achieve. The chain cycle of inspiration must not break; we are born to do great things. Since meeting Abel, an item on my To-Do list has been added: Becoming the president of the Harvard Crimson daily newspaper.
It is not that Abel had confirmed my dream school and dream extracurricular activity that his few words had changed my life. For those of you who know me and how I have squandered the last two years of my high school career, (and most possibly the last 17 years of my life here on our lovely green planet Earth) I really may not stand the chance to even be considering Harvard. But that is not the point here ;)
Not only Abel but the spirit of HOBY had opened my eyes to the importance of inspiration. My one and only hope is to attain the highest achievements I possibly can with my given talents and circumstances. To do less would be a crime in the face of those who have not been privileged with the opportunities that have been presented to me. By the end of my career, whatever it may be, I hope to have been an inspiration. After making the world a better place in whatever ways I may be able to, I want to inspire other people. What I cannot achieve, I hope to achieve through them. I believe that true joy and happiness will come on the day that I see one of my students achieving something I could never have done for lack of talent, hard work, or fortune. I could never have become who I am now without my parents, friends, community, and Abel. If I achieve something, it would not be my achievement alone, it would be the achievement of all those who inspired me and helped me to the process. The HOBY experience opened my eyes to my own potential and how important it is to be the best I can be, and also how important inspiring other people is.
The HOBY experience itself did not only consist of meeting different people from all over the world. I must say that I learned so much more than I could ever have imagined from the other 24 Korean ambassadors who lived through ten days of my constantly lacking leadership abilities. MJ, Eddie, CK, Sang, Sue, Say, 혜수언니, 현호오빠, 나연이, 시연이, 예슬이,