When our car stopped, a swarm of children attacked the doors. They slammed on the windows, crying “BENS! BENS!” I had no idea what they were shouting until our tour guide told us, “They are asking for pens.” I was bewildered at the thought that these children in Kenya had to beg for everyday essentials like writing utensils.
I seldom thought about why it was that I had been to so many places around the world at such a young age. Instead, as a child at least, I simply wondered why others had not. To me it seemed normal. Every winter vacation, my family visited a country we had never seen, and every summer another. My parents have always valued worldliness and wanted my brother and me to have as comprehensive a perspective as possible and because of this, my most cherished value is open-mindedness. By now, I’ve visited about thirty countries around the world on every one of the seven continents. It wasn’t until recently that I thought about how unorthodox this all was.
Over the past few years, I started seriously thinking about my obligation to my parents. When people hear about the places I’ve been, they expect a lot out of me, as they should. My parents have invested an incredible amount of time, effort, and money into bettering me. Though I know they would never ask for anything in return, I do what I do because I have an obligation as an incredibly fortunate individual to make the most of the opportunities I have been presented with. After coming here to UCLA, I realize how much I can do and, having seen first-hand families in Kenya living in houses, if they could even be considered them, built out of sticks and mud, the tired eyes of the locals following our car as we drove by, I now know how much there is to do. What my parents have done for me has shaped who I am, and I know that I would be a very different person today had I not seen the things I’ve seen.