Personal essay

Becoming resilient, in and out of the pool

IT WAS COLD. Freezing cold. Like the sub-zero temperatures of Antarctica.

More than helping with cleaning

THE BROOM BRUSHED the floor of the kitchen as my mom sighed.

“Mom, do you need help with anything?” I ask.

My life as a gamer

I CAN FEEL my sweat-encased fingers stick to the keys. The rapid pounding of my heart resounds in my head. I hear the powerful boom of the woman’s voice as we land the winning hit, “Victory!”

The journey with my mother

MY FATHER LEFT on Christmas 2011.

I kind of saw it as a present, rather than a tragedy.

I wouldn’t miss the colored pencil drawings scribbled on the walls, the smell of damp socks, mice poop under furniture, cockroaches creeping through the cracks and dirty dishes on display the majority of the times.

Climbing higher, growing stronger

AT AN ELEVATION OF 7,290 feet, we – 40-some American high school students – started hiking up the mountain single file, placing one foot in front of the other while we tried to keep pace with the person in front of us.

Around us, the cold, bleak, snow-capped mountains stood on either side of the closed-in valley, with brown grass signaling the approach of winter. 

A lesson in being truly grateful

AS I STARED at the black streaks of slimy, putty-like goo that were thrown onto my bed­room ceiling during my 10th birthday celebration, I resented my living situation.

I hated the fact I shared a tiny bed­room with my older sister and mother in my grandparents’ basement.

Working hard on my path forward

WALKING INTO A ROOM full of strangers is scary. Especially when you’re the newest and youngest person there.

Strength can mean more than muscles

IT’S RECESS; every kid’s favorite time during school.

The sun beats down on all of us as we scrape our knees and ruin our clothes. I’m 6 years old, my velcro shoes are covered in mud and grime, and my school uniform is untucked and disheveled.

I run over to my group of friends organizing a game of tag. The instant I get to the group, I hear, “Ooh, Lucas is here!” Initially, I’m excited with the response, eager to spend time with my friends. But what follows is a comment I have never forgotten.

Wrestling with womanhood

Alexis ReavesMY FRIEND AND I were walking the streets of southern France with an almost unbearable heat seeping in from all directions. We were making our way to the beach, burning up, yet still happy to have each other’s company.

A loud honk startled us, and we turned to see an orange-looking old man smiling at us in his car. He began shouting a slew of vulgar things he wanted to do to us, or rather, to our bodies.

Lessons from a broken Venezuelan toilet seat

Sebestian Alfonzo

THE ONLY THING MORE embarrassing than breaking a toilet seat, is breaking a toilet seat in a country where it costs several times more than it does in the U.S.

Take it from a guilty party.

Our flight from the decaying Valencia airport was set to leave in a few hours. My mom had packed for my careless 12-year-old self in exchange for a 

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