I must first answer the question of who I am for you to better understand my essay, but it is who I have become that is important. I believe things happen for a reason. Any obstacles I have faced somehow always turned into a blessing or learning experience, the building blocks for who I am today. In my sophomore year of high school, Summer Search, a leadership development program for low-income teenagers entered my life. Before my acceptance into Summer Search, I was consumed with the constant feeling that I must care for those around me, and I had no outlet for my own emotions. I felt so frenzied by caring for others that I did not have time to care for myself. For example, I kept my anger bottled up inside and rarely talked about my own emotions. That phase of my life ended because Summer Search gave me the opportunity to talk weekly with my mentor about what I am dealing with or what is bothering me. These calls have frequently made me uncomfortable or made me wish I was anywhere but on the phone with my mentor, but they are a necessary part of my week. Summer Search compelled me to be honest with myself and guided me to accept my imperfections. In the summer of 2006, Summer Search sent me on a twenty-four day multi-expedition wilderness program. While mountain biking with my group we lost sight of the trail when it became covered in a snowdrift. We were unprepared for the elements and hunkered together for warmth until we were discovered at 12:30 a.m. by a Search and Rescue helicopter. That was the first time in my life that I felt my life could be in danger and that feeling resonated in me for days after our rescue. From this experience, my wilderness trip taught me how to harness my strength to press on in the most challenging situations. Blisters taught me about endurance, backpacking taught me about patience, mosquitoes taught me about tolerance, Search and Rescue taught me about unrestrained generosity, rock climbing taught me about trust and windsurfing taught me about finding my direction. In addition to the wilderness trip, Summer Search funded my trip to Peru this past summer where I spent a month building a preschool in a small community in the Sacred Valley. Each member of my group came to affect me in beautiful ways, like how misleading my first impressions were. I made assumptions before I knew my group on a deeper level or knew about their background. One of the greatest impressions left on my heart was by a boy named Stuart, who fit the stereotype of a “meathead jock”, complete with a Long Islander accent. After befriending Stuart and learning about his family history, I understood why he has a facade of cockiness and got to see how genuine and caring he was once I made the effort to connect with him. Even after we parted ways, the people on my trip truly amazed me with their diversity of personalities and friendship they offered me. After spending thirty days with the same people, I formed unconditional friendships and whether I see them or not, I love them and appreciate the chance to know them. On the other hand, having made such meaningful relationships and leaving each other so quickly was the most difficult part of my summer. However, with this loss I have learned to let go and readjust to my life in Seattle without forgetting my friendships from Peru. Since the launch of my relationship with Summer Search, I have adopted new qualities and have formed new relationships that positively contribute to my life. I am proud of my accomplishments and my progress with Summer Search, yet also pleased that I have retained the distinctiveness of my personality. Change and growth in my life have not ended, but are really just beginning. I am on a journey with Summer Search that will last throughout the rest high school and will affect how I live my life. Summer Search has blessed my life in countless ways and will continue to be there to lend a hand as I settle into my spirit.
Summer Search has expanded my horizons well beyond my own. It allowed me to see the potential in me and what I could achieve.
After having 2 interviews to become a Summer Search student I am no longer afraid of the unknown and I am no longer intimidated by uncomfortable situations. Rather I have learned to value them as it has allowed me to grow as a person.
Summer Search is a class organization that has done everything with integrity, grace, and gratitude. As we expand, the core values are still present, and still feels intimate.
I think that Summer Search does a good job of providing kids a chance to see what their potential is.
Summer Search is an amazing organization. It helped me find direction in my life. The staff cares a lot about the students. It changed my life.
I arrived in the U.S. in 2000, found Summer Search, went to a summer camp MH in summer between junior and senior year. I learned my English/most of it at least there. I met amazing people and because of Summer Search I was nominated for Posse Foundation full tuition and went to Hamilton College.
I was able to travel to Alabama to Dolphin Island Sea Lab and studied marine biology on the Gulf of Mexico. We also traveled to New Orleans and Florida. I was able to scuba dive and snorkel and meet different youth from around the country. Summer Search really showed me a world outside my own and yet one I could be a part of.
I imigrated from Cape Verde to Boston in 1996 when I was twelve. I was sponsored over by my father but my mother stayed back. In Boston, I was the mother to my little brother, and the woman of the house. I never had time for myself and felt like I had no family or support. That's when SS stepped into my life and saved me! Summer Search is the family I did not have in this country.
My experience with SS has so much impact on me that I want to pay it forward by helping young adults.