I shudder to think about how many pencils and other writing utensils I have used in my schooling lifetime. The amount of pencils I have carelessly lost. The quantity of pencils I throw away, just because the eraser is not perfectly clean and robust. The excess of over-flowing pens, highlighters and pencils in my desk drawer, hoping to be the next one put to the page. Owning pens from places I have had the luxury of traveling to, Australia, Rome, London and more. Pencils and pens all around me that I completely neglect to appreciate. Coming from a nation where pens are freely given away by hotels, used as a cheap way to advertise businesses and found in abundance in souvenir stores. A nation where a single isle has packets, boxes and cases of pens and pencils dangling in front me and leaving me not feeling any emotion except questioning which is cheapest … A nation
that has an abundance of what Afghan kids dream about, and not even realizing it.
Except this semester, that will all change.
This semester my Papermates, BICs and Sharpies will mean something. They will be
appreciated and celebrated by the boys and girls of Afghanistan. The hands of these new holders will grip the pencil more tightly, meaningfully and powerfully because they are hands of hardship, misfortune and poverty. Seeing pencils and pens in bulk of 100s for half off will no longer mean a good deal – it will mean change, hope and revolution.
After enrolling in the University of South Florida’s Honors College course “One Pencil Can Help Bring Peace” I have realized that during my efforts to secure a wholesome education I am being given the chance and have the ability to do the same for children thousands of miles away. They come from a place with massive culture differences and extreme living conditions that I know I could never grasp. Yet, we still have something in common: the love of learning.
This semester I will aim to urge residents of the Tampa Bay community to reach in between their sofa cushions to find the lone pencil lodged underneath them and make them realize that was an act of leadership. I wish to show those around me how realizing a good cause tugs at your heart strings and can instantly make you a humanitarian. I want them to fall in love with a cause, just as I hastily have. And show them that fundraising and outreaching comes with ease if you are educated about the difference you are actually making, just as I did in class today. Seeing the pictures of the wide-eyed children covered in dust and yesterdays clothes yet still in attendance in their box-size classroom – ready to learn – made me embarrassed to have whined about paying tuition and finding a parking spot whilst in my air-conditioned car.
“One Pencil Can Help Bring Peace” is the beginning of a beautiful opportunity for the students at the University of South Florida and I could not have made a better addition to my course schedule in choosing to be one of the first.
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