seattle Student essay

An Hong Ngo

Dear Summer Search,

Coming back home, I felt changed. I felt a transformation of my mind, a renovation of my body, an alteration of my thoughts. It was as if my trip was not only a venture into the woods but also a glimpse into my life. It not only provided me with the chance to correct but a chance to create myself for the better. Those moments I dwelled into nature were some of the most amazing in my life.

It all starts from the beginning, from opportunity knocking on my door. My trip was not only founded upon my personal doings but rather from the actions of others. From the acceptance of Summer Search to the generosity of caring supporters, it all folded together to create the once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to journey out into the world.

For me, this wasn’t only a trip that would help nurture my leadership skills; it was a trip that also broadened my horizons of the world around me. Being a child of first generation immigrants to this country, chances like these are hard to come by and grateful is an understatement describing how I feel. In reality, this trip is my first ever journey out past our state borders that I can truly cherish and I can say without a doubt that it was one to remember.

At the beginning of the trip, I was your average person, racked with excitement but apprehensive with nervousness. I felt like it was only yesterday when I was back home, where it was safe, secure, and simple. But after arriving at the airport, worry crept under my skin. I didn’t have that feeling of security anymore. It disappeared, along with the rest of my sophomoric instincts.

After just the first few days however, my apprehension disappeared and in its place stood amazement. From the dazzling stars in the night sky to the breathtaking view on top of a 7000-foot peak, the beauty of the outdoors stunned me. Even now, I will say that I’ll hold these memories with me for the rest of my life.

In particular, I distinctly remember one memory that I expect to change me in my life back home. It was the day our group had reached the summit of one of the mountains in Oregon. After reaching the summit and seeing the amazing sunrise, our instructors posed to us a question. It was, “Who in your life would you share this experience with?” After a few seconds of pondering, I immediately thought of my parents. I thought of the hardships, the struggles, and the difficulties they had to endure throughout their lives, and the meager luxuries they have in return. The thought of them fiercely wrapped around my mind and stoked my tongue in the cold, chilly air, but for some reason, I couldn’t say it. As I write this letter, I’m filled with disappointment and regret that I wasn’t able to speak my mind, despite how passionate I was about it and I can say now that I’ve given myself a goal for the future. It is to enunciate with my mind, pronounce with my heart, and give words to what must be said within me.

During my trip, our instructors were more to us than just wilderness guides, they were mentors too. They taught us to be true to yourself, to cherish the people around you, and to do things not for the materialistic gains, but for the fulfillment they will give you. All of them struck me with equal emphasis. They forced me to look into my life, to look into my past, present, and future, and really ask myself whether I was truly happy with how I was. But the further I looked the further I was met with goals to be set and dreams to be materialized. After my trip, I unwaveringly carried these morals back to my old life and told myself that I would make it anew, that I would live my life to its fullest. I felt truly inspired to pursue all that I had missing in my life.

In these few weeks I’ve been back and with the lingering weeks I have left before the school year, I feel that I’ve changed and that even other people have started to take notice. They’ve told me I’m more enthusiastic, more inquisitive, and just different from before. However, I don’t plan to stop there. I feel that after this amazing trip, I’ve only reached one crossroad in my life and know that I will face many others in the future. I plan to take the lessons I’ve learned, the changes I’ve started, and the knowledge I’ve gained and nurture them, for in the future, I want to tackle on life’s hardships with everything I have.

Overall, I feel like this has been an amazing experience for me. From the spectacles of nature to the values of integrity that I’ve witnessed, I’ve loved it all. However, with my last parting words, what I want to leave after this amazing adventure is hope for the future. I hope that the future generations who take my spot in the future won’t be limited by anything. I hope that nothing, neither money, opportunity, nor fate will hold them back from their dreams. I hope that they will one day, be able to shoot for the stars, just as I did.

Thank you,

An-Hong

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