Angel Gaston, a junior from Washington Metropolitan High School
I am Angel Destiny Gaston.
I am the youngest of five.
I am so glad to be here and alive.
I am one of a kind you see there is not many like me.
I am full of lots of possibilities.
I want to cross the Seven Seas.
I am going to see all that I can see.
I am on a quest to do my best.
I am not going to settle for nothing less.
I am the best that I can be the scholar thrives through me.
Soon they all will see that God's light shines through me.
Anything is possible when it comes to me because this journey is part of my Destiny.
Angel in China
It was always a dream of mine as a child to travel the world. So when the opportunity of going to China appeared last summer how foolish I would have been to pass on such a wonderful experience. At first I was apprehensive about the situation for the simple fact that it sounded too good to be true. It was one of those opportunities where I've experienced someone else getting the chance to do but me. There were many thoughts running through my mind like a marathon. Going half way across the world with people I do not know on a personal level. As you can see I conquered all of those doubts and fears for I have been there and done that. My assumptions and reality about China were two different things. I was under the impression that everything was uniform. For example, I thought the influence of communism was so apparent that we were going to witness people following very strict rules. Of course it was not like that at all; matter of a fact, just from the outside looking in China appeared to be a very relaxed and normal country. The rules that I learned that the Chinese followed made the most sense. For instance, they drive on certain days because of the high number of cars. I felt this was just one of the sacrifices the Chinese have to make because of the dense population. Seeing China on TV and experiencing China in real life are two dramatically different things. Americans should never settle for just watching TV and letting time pass them by. That is an important thing I realized in China. There were so many people out being active, having fun and, just living their everyday lives. I realized I have been wasting a lot of my time doing nothing. In China, I completed the most activities in that short amount of time and I had a blast doing it. I visited many different places and saw many different faces; it was almost unreal. I used all the energy I had; it felt like I was busy every second of the day. Compared to being home, I waste my days away and when I could be experiencing so many more things if I don't allow barriers to discourage me. I believe that was the most important lesson I learned. Why settle for looking at someone else's vacation pictures and how much fun they had? Or watch shows about different countries on the TV? When you can actually go out there and experience things for yourself instead of always living other peoples' experiences. I will never be content with seeing pictures and learning out of books. I want to see things with my own two eyes, and I want to walk the land and breathe the air of all the places I am destined to go. H Street really sparked an interest in my life very early because they gave me the tool I needed to embark on this new country and now I am able to say that when I was 16 I went to China. How many African American teenagers can say that? Not many. If it wasn't for this opportunity I probably never would have gone to China. It would have always been a distant dream in the back of my mind, yes, but to actually go is a whole different story. Words can't describe how grateful I am, pictures can't describe how much fun I had. Saying the words, "Thank you," can't describe how thankful I truly am. At least I can express how I feel through this essay. Learning and using Mandarin were the easiest things to do. Getting the required travel documents was an easy task, too. Being in China was the most satisfying thing I have ever done. Leaving China was the hardest thing I had to do. Even though I have the boarding passes to prove that I've been to China and I got pictures of myself in China, it still hasn't sunk in yet. Everything was so beautiful and surreal that it was almost as if I was never there at all. Nothing or no one will ever be able to take away these spectacular memories from the corridors of my mind. Will I ever come to terms with the reality of me going to China? Yes, one day. From learning about the Great Wall in World History class to actually climbing the Great Wall of China is a tremendous thing to accomplish. I went from riding my bike around the block in my neighborhood to riding a bike 8 miles across the wall of Xi'an. I traveled from Washington D.C., the capital of the United States of America, to Beijing, the capitol of China. I went from watching a documentary about Shanghai to actually walking the streets of Shanghai. Finally, I went from looking at pictures of Hong Kong to actually being in those pictures in Hong Kong. All of this has been nothing but a mere dream come true. I am the first one in my family to go the furthest in the world and that is an accomplishment that I will wear on my sleeve for the rest of my life.