Dear Summer Search,
I, Donika, am a genuine, caring individual who strives for perfection, with a fear of failure. I come from much struggle, family drug addiction, and the recurring thought of “I wish." As a result of not having much as a child and throughout adolescence, I have always had an independent way of life, working for what I want and need, depending on no one. From being very aware of my surroundings family wise, I’ve learned from analyzing their situations, where it is in life I don’t want to find myself. Due to this I have endured the ability to work towards a brighter future for myself; obtain an education, work fulltime and partake in any and everything that will have a positive effect on my future, such as Summer Search.
Being a part of Summer Search not only has opened many doors for me, but has changed me greatly as an individual. I’ve learned to trust others with my feelings and have realized, that letting people into your world and life helps, not hurts.
Summer Search helped me not only find my true inner self, but helped me bring it out as well. I’m more open and willing to do things out of my comfort zone without the fear of what others think. I’ve noticed my new, more outgoing personality reflecting on others around me. Therefore, I see myself making a difference in people’s lives, of which I open up to everyday. Without Summer Search I believe I would be that same little Donika, sitting in the front of the classroom taking as many notes as possible and heading straight to the library when the school bell rings. The same Donika who would stay up late studying and working away every minute of her free time; letting the days go by instead of making the world go round.
Going to Africa with Global Leadership Adventures this summer was mind blowing…so many different people from all over the map all in one place, bonding and exchanging smiles. I made many great friends in Africa. We went on excursions such as, visiting the Cape Coast Slave Forts, Ashanti King’s castle, Krobo & Kumasi Villages, “Queen Mothers” of West Africa etc. Upon arrival in Ghana, I feared that I wouldn’t open up and be myself because of the sadness of being away from home. I was surprised by how kind and welcoming the Ghanaian people were, but the real shocker was their way of living within the villages. It was challenging not always having a toilet that worked when away from our hostel and having to eat food you’ve never heard of.
During excursions and trips to the markets, the vendors were very aggressive. They’d pull individuals by the arm begging for us to enter their shops and buy things. At first response I thought, “What is wrong with these people?” then I realized that selling products both imported and sewn-traditional clothing, bags and scarves was their only form of income. I noticed that practically everyone was selling the same thing, competition was exceedingly high. Women and children begged on the streets, asking for money and even our personal items. When I tried to ignore a group of beggars as directed by our mentor, a young girl approached me stating something I will never forget, “You can help, you’re one of us”. I’d suddenly become sad, thinking about what she had said to me. I was one of them, not only because I was of color, but because I was a human being.
Having an open-mind and the want and willingness to learn about another culture made me want to go to Africa. Given the chance to walk in their footsteps and experience life exactly as they do today was an experience I will never forget and it would not have happened without Summer Search. My dreams were turned into reality and will always have an everlasting impact on my life and the way I view myself and the world today. I have declared myself an “Agent of Change” and Summer Search is where that change began.
Chief Sealth High School ’10