For the past year, I’ve had my mind fixated on a goal: attending Northeastern University. My thoughts and my actions were both aimed towards this objective, everything I did was in line with it. I was constantly thinking about my future in Boston, and I felt like my life had a purpose; but was I happy?
“Delay gratification,” “plan for the future,” “Keep your eye on the prize.” These remarks have become banal upon repetition; everybody knows that goal-setting brings virtue to one’s life. Objectives and aims can drive people and give their lives meaning, yet to live a fulfilled life, we must not overlook savoring the moment.
Mindfulness is a state of mind one can achieve by focusing on the present, by being aware. It has been accepted by countless research studies and is used as a therapeutic technique as well as for leisure.
According to a major study led by psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University, people spend 46.7% of their time thinking about something other than what they are actually doing, and this tends to make them unhappy. On the other hand, individuals who are aware of their surroundings, their thoughts, and their sensations are prone to experiencing more positive feelings.
But you might be thinking, if you are at work, day-dreaming about your kids and your family that await you at home, wouldn't you be happier? And in simple terms: no, because chances are that if your mind has the habit of wandering, you'll never be present in the now. When you get home, you'll probably be thinking of all the work left to do for the next day, and you'll soon enter a vicious cycle of inattentiveness. And even if this isn't the case, no matter how positive your thoughts are, and no matter how unpleasant the task is, you'll be better off by giving it your undivided attention.
What mindfulness proposes is that we acknowledge our feelings first. If you're at work doing some tedious tasks, realize that what you are is not enjoyable. Then, think to yourself, why you are doing it; maybe you need the money to get your kids through college, maybe you are busting your ass to get a promotion that will give you more free time to spend with your family. Regardless the reason why, knowing the purpose of the activity will instantly make it less annoying, but we must not get carried away by our greater goals. Once you know what you're doing and why you're doing it, just do it. The premise of mindfulness is accepting sometimes bitter realities that we all have to endure.
And as for me, having a clear objective certainly made me get through tough times. When I had to stay up late studying, I knew it was all for a reason. But somehow I was still sleepwalking through the good times. I was getting home after a long day's work and inadvertently neglecting my children by thinking about tomorrow's work--metaphorically speaking of course. While I was at school, with my friends or family, I was thinking about what my life would look like in five months. I was focusing so much on the destination, that I was not enjoying the journey--I was miserable.
So when asked if I had been wrong about happiness, I was blindsided. I had an objective, and I felt like what I was doing was purposeful, but I wasn't sure if I was actually happy. Most of the time, I spent complaining about wanting to be somewhere else, and I let precious moments pass by me.
But the good news is, it's not too late. I'm not living in Boston looking back at my last year in high school full of regrets. I still have time to enjoy Lima, to spend time with my family and with friends. And chances are, it's not too late for you either. So go out there, and live your life. Set rigorous goals that will challenge you, but never forget the power vested in a single instant.
So it's almost over. I'm about to culminate the first semester of my last year in high school, and the Northeastern notification date is a week from today. In a matter of moments, I'll know where my future lies, and if all goes well, in under nine months, I'll be heading towards my next adventure.
These past four years have gone by in a breeze. I've made friends and memories that I'll cherish forever, but that's not the purpose of this blog. I'll spare you the suspense; I'm here to talk about the primary reason why parents send their children to school. I'm talking about a department of government funded by billions of dollars worldwide and the key to a fulfilling life: education, more specifically, my education.
I began my scholarship as a naive little freshman in high school with life ahead of me. I was part of the MYP and had no clue what my future held. I was a career-agnostic; I claimed neither faith nor disbelief in my future job and had no intent in figuring it out.
That same year, during one of those typical Fischman family dinners, I remember my dad mentioning the Innovation Academy. "The Inno-what?" I asked myself. But before I even had the chance to question him, my father began flaunting words like purpose and motivation, and lost himself in what became more of a pep-rally than a meal.
I wasn't 100% sure what it was, but my brother decided to join it, so why not, right? It was probably one of the most apathetic and impromptu decisions of my life, but I thank God for it.
Of course, once I decided to join, I began to research. I remember writing my application and thinking to myself: "wow, this is actually pretty cool". I applied in late 2013, and by the following year, I was in.
I've been part of the IA for the past three years and have seen it go through several changes. I've watched it grow, and have grown thanks to it. Through concrete projects, I learned about business, economics, science and marketing. Through experiences, I improved my organization, mastered programs like premiere and keynote, and became an annoyingly picky typographer.
I could write a bible-long essay documenting my learnings in the IA, and can genuinely say that it feels like I haven't learned a thing--in a good way. Most lessons I've learned have come through failures, struggles and solutions; it's been a rollercoaster, but a fun one to ride.
Now, I won't lie. There were some days when I hated it. I pondered on the idea of quitting and badmouthed whatever now insignificant problem I was dealing with. Other days, I felt scared. "What if some colleges reject me?" I'd wonder; "What if I'm jeopardizing my future by not going into the IB?" But most days I felt proud. Proud to be part of a program that taught me to question the rules, to value my uniqueness, to learn the right way.
Here's to an education that has taught me how to think and not how to obey.
Truth be said, my future is still quite unknown. I'm a senior in high school whose graduating in 6 months, but there are a lot of things that I am yet to learn. First of all, I haven't actually gotten into college yet, and even if I had, I am aware that things don't always go as planned. There is much I don't know, but there is one thing that is for certain: no matter what happens, I know I made the right decision.
Over the past few weeks, my friends have countlessly asked me: "what will your Innovation Academy business be?"A question which I'd answer by saying that Loor, Chiara and I are starting a company dedicated to serving delicious bread bombs filled with hazelnut cream. I'd elaborate on our mission and attempt to paint them a mental image of the product and our goals, however, regardless of my detailed explanations, I'd persistently receive the same response: "So basically just bread with Nutella, right?" But contrary to common belief, BombZ is much more than just that.
There are multiple aspects that my team and I, as a business, have to oversee. Starting with the logistics department, we have to contact suppliers of materials like bread, hazelnut cream and the papers for distributing the product. This process alone takes time and effort, and will have to be complemented by a financial analysis of the costs and the prices that our product will have. Once the materials and the fees have been sorted out, we have to worry about the marketing of our business and the communication to our customer sectors. Not only this, but defining who our audience is, and catering specifically to them will be what makes BombZ succeed.
But before even worrying about the operations, we have to build a brand. Think of the personality our business will attain, and the purpose by which we, as a team, stand. This was the first step Chiara, Ariana and I decided to take. We opted to define BombZ by determining its mission, logo, and core values, something we were able to accomplish this within first few days of class. I believe that we were extremely productive throughout the branding stage, and we have an attractive logo to prove this. Nevertheless, while efficiency was high through the start of the week, I do believe that we could have challenged each other more by the end. There are various tasks to be completed, and right now it feels like we are a little scattered. Granted, only one week has passed since we began working in this business, but it is important acknowledging the problems early on.
In my opinion, the root of the issue emerged a while ago when we decided as a group that our roles should not be set in stone. Ariana took on the job of the leader, and we decided to divide marketing between both of us. Logistics was Chiara's task, and I was left to do finance as well. As you may see, we were all over the place. Having such ambiguity led to our expectations being vague, all of which caused an imbalance in work and vast confusion. We were asking ourselves what to do next when in reality that should not even be a question. There is so much to do at the start of business development that a second should never be wasted.
Upon realizing this, I began thinking of solutions. My mind kept reminding me of the iWeek culture problem, where we found each other neglecting many systems due to lack of accountability. The only way I see we can make sure our business is always productive is to define the tasks and make sure we are holding each other responsible for fulfilling our roles.
So if you ask me if BombZ is "just bread with Nutella," I would have to disagree. BombZ is a business dedicated to adding joy to our customers, and the journey towards achieving this will not be an easy one. We are only one week into this company, and challenges have already emerged. Nevertheless, although three people are not many, I find comfort in knowing that I am part of a team of excellent workers and am confident that we will figure it out. GO BOMBZ!
Plumber's Syndrome: a term coined by author William Deresiewicz. Otherwise known as Ivy retardation, or like The New York Times once put it: "when you can converse with people from other countries, in other languages, but can’t communicate with the plumber standing in your own house." It affects the many who attended elite universities in the States, but in the case of Peru, just the lucky few. Every year, Lima high schoolers are struck by this disease, one of the most recent victims being me.
As luck would have it, my phone got stolen over the weekend. Forgive my passive voice, but if I knew who took it, I wouldn't be writing this today. The tragedy took place on Saturday and thankfully my mom found a friend who could lend me her iPhone for a few weeks. On Sunday I had to go pick it up, and since both my parents and my brother are away, I had no one to take me. I usually don't take cabs. Whether it's my family or my driver, there is always somebody who can get me to where I need to be. Even if I ever do, I am always consumed by technology; completely oblivious to the presence of my surroundings.
Although it wasn't common for me, under the circumstances, I was forced to go on a taxi. The driver arrived at my house and gave me a call. He drove a red Toyota that must have been twice my age. I left my house and uneasily got into the cab only to become even more troubled after listening to the loud engine noises the car made at every turn. The man was in his mid-thirties, he wore a collared shirt and listened to Los Hermanos Yaipen. While usually I'd be immersed into the world of social media, with no phone, this was no longer a possibility. As the awful music and the unsettling motor sounds attempted to mask the awkward silence, I realized that I had nothing in common with this man.
It was a long drive. Probably about thirty to forty minutes in the car and I had no source of entertainment. I tried to ask him a question but found myself failingly searching for words to say. I am a twelveth-grade student at one of Peru's best schools, and somehow, I could not speak to my taxi driver. I had never felt so disconnected in my life. I usually find ease in delving into a conversation, but for some reason, it seemed impossible to relate to this person.
We must have spent about twenty minutes in the car before I asked him if he preferred cash or credit. It was a stupid question if anything, but it was a good start. After hearing his vague answer, I asked him his name and if he liked being a taxi driver and soon the conversation began. It wasn't easy getting over myself but after a while, I saw that this person--who now I know is named Luis--was actually kind of interesting. He was an aspiring entrepreneur who was planning to start his own taxi business with his brother.
Roosevelt is a great school. It offers students many opportunities to shape their learning. Although I love my high school, it does a terrible job at exposing students outside their bubble of eliteness. While I talked to Luis, I realized that we had more in common that I led myself to believe. He also had dreams and aspirations and a refreshing perspective on things. All of this made me think back to Corey's proposition for the Innovation Academy. Besides changing the way Roosevelt teaches, how about changing who they teach all together? By mixing people from different social statuses, students would be able to learn from people who might have varying points of view. This merging of socio-economic classes would broaden students perspectives and do a hell of a better job at, as Deresiewicz put it, shaping world citizens.
The start of this semester not only marked my last year living in Peru and my first year as a senior, but also my third year entering a different Innovation Academy cohort. I was part of the opening sophomore class and have gone through two generations of teachers and classmates. I have learned to work with changing group sizes and adapted to different teaching methods. I have been through a lot inside of this program, which is why it was strange starting a project with students who were new to the system.
iWeek is a week-long project that we do to kick-start the school year. I was a part of the Secret Condors and the Out of Uniform groups in years before, but for this round of iWeek, things changed a little. For starters, the teams were cohort-based rather than mixed, and this year, we were amongst the oldest. Also, while the old projects were slightly theoretical, this iWeek had a direct application. The purpose of the mini project was to build our class' culture, something that would impact us throughout the whole school year.
To be completely honest, at first, I didn't get the point of this iWeek project. Culture is something that you build over time; you can't rush it. I was skeptical about whether or not forcing this idea would work, but I decided to look at things with an open mind and see where the project took me.
When we first met as a class, things were a little awkward. Some of us hadn't met and were feeling somewhat uncomfortable. I have this image of the first day of class when we gathered in, and everybody was shyly sitting with the people from their grades. This feeling was soon to change tough, as we embarked on the project together.
From that Thursday at the start of class to the next one when we presented, the group was faced with challenges that we had to solve together. We began by dividing ourselves into sections and roles, and I was nominated to be the leader, a position I gladly took on. Throughout the week, we developed values, systems, and spaces that would help us develop our culture best. I was able to learn from people with different perspectives than mine and see how my future peers worked. Although at first I was doubtful, I realized that maybe this wasn't meant as a way to build our culture from scratch, but rather as a time to prototype the culture that we'd grow in time to come.
One of the reasons why I have been loyal to the Innovation Academy all these years is that I find it to be a program that succeeds at shaping individuals. Part of this goes along with the fact that everything is flexible, everything changes. Whether it is the syllabus, the classroom arrangement or your thoughts and mentality, everything is in constant transformation. By encouraging us to think outside of the box, we are continuously challenging each other's beliefs and doings.
Even though at first I doubted the iWeek project, by keeping an open mindset I was able to find enormous value behind it. While my family sometimes bothers me for being stubborn, I have realized that I am not like this as a student. I'd like to think that I was able to leave this trait behind thanks to the Innovation Academy. If I have learned anything from these past years, it is that I'm human, and I tend to be wrong. Some arguments I make may be logical but others won't, and only by admitting my mistakes and keeping an open mind will I be able to learn. While doing this may be hard at times and it does take some effort, the sooner you realize this, the sooner you can begin to make the most out of any situation, much like I did for iWeek.
Jonah Berger is a best-selling author credited for writing the book Contagious, a book that explains why products catch on. Besides his book, Jonah teaches at the Wharton school of business at the University of Pennsylvania and is an expert in the field of advertising. Through intriguing anecdotes and astounding research studies, Berger manages to explain to us the six key points to making a product/brand a viral success. The six steps are Social Currency, Triggers, Emotions, Public, Practical Value and Stories.
The main points that Jonah touches in his book are the six concepts mentioned beforehand that in essence boost word of mouth, he refers to them with the acronym STEPPS.
People share what makes them look good. There are three important factors that yield social currency: finding the product’s inner remarkability, leveraging game mechanics and making the consumers feel like insiders. A memorable example he used to explain this idea was the anecdote of "please don't tell". This was the name of a secret bar hidden inside a hot dog restaurant that displayed remarkability and made tellers seem 'cool.' The owners purposefully found a way to add revenue by making something worth sharing with others, and the fact that the name told them not to only made the numbers go even higher.
“So to get people talking, companies and organizations need to mint social currency. Give people a way to make themselves look good while promoting their products and ideas along the way.”
"Top of mind means tip of the tongue." Associating your product to the right triggers can increase the immediate and long-term word of mouth your product receives. It is not so much the remarkability, but whether or not your product is easily accessible through thought. I found that the story that best described this aspect was the association the KitKat brand found by joining its products to coffee. The company found a clever way to spice up the chocolate bars by using fun alliteration (Kitkat coffee) and bringing attention by pairing the product to something we see commonly. Now every time you drink coffee you will think Kitkat.
“Accessible thoughts and ideas lead to action.”
"When we care, we share!" Highly arousing emotions (positive or negative) lead to virality when it comes to marketing. Activating emotion is they key to transmission. One example of arousing emotions was conveyed with Susan Boyle's audition, whose talent was underestimated in Britain’s got Talent by being judged solely for her appearance. The 47-year old woman wowed the crowd with her astonishing voice, making the video go viral in a matter of days. It was unexpected, remarkable and inspiring, making for millions of spectators across the globe.
“excite people or inspire them by showing them how they can make a difference. On the negative side, make people mad, not sad. Make sure the polar bear story gets them fired up.”
"Built to show, built to grow." when people see, they imitate. Observability is key to making your product contagious. Social proof is something crucial, but if must be used purposefully or else it could advertise the wrong thing. For this concept, I found the Apple logo issue to be the most meaningful. Mac had a dilemma where they didn't know which way to make the apple logo face, either the owner or the viewers, and decided on viewers to increase observability. Observability increases publicity in the means that it advertises things that otherwise would remain unseen; when you wear shirts with brands or accessories, you are reminding people of the brand that in essence is being promoted.
“Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular.”
What matters is the news you can use. Practical value accounts for a big part of virality; people like to help others out, and by sharing useful news they are strengthening their bonds and relationships. To do this, ensure that the message you are spreading is the truth, is easy to see, properly framed and accessible. Make sure that the message is not too accessible, because exclusivity in deals may boost sales. Taking, for example, the corn shucking video. Where Ken Craig, an average 86-year old man explained viewers how to easily shuck corn; this video was found very useful by viewers, making it go viral very quickly. This comes to show how useful things account for word of mouth due to useful information that got passed on.
“Our desire to share helpful things is so powerful that it can make even false ideas succeed. Sometimes the drive to help takes a wrong turn.”
In this chapter, Jonah uses the example of the Trojan horse, a metaphor for an interesting and memorable story that is worth re-telling. When trying to make or tell a brand’s story, it is important to make it integral and valuable. This way as the story is retold, the company name doesn’t get lost in the anecdotal part. A great example for this is the golden palace marketing stunt that resulted in failure. Where a guy infiltrated the Olympics and belly flopped in a tutu making for a pretty remarkable story. Even though this anecdote was of high emotional impact, it had very little to do with the brand itself. This caused the story to be re-told, but the brand to get lost in the explanation.
“People don't think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.”
In Puno, Perú, a farmer sells his harvest of quinoa for under 3 soles the kg while a citizen in Lima will buy that same bag in Wong for 11 soles, almost quadrupling its original value. Everybody knows that in agriculture, the producer is always the one who earns the least, but have you ever wondered why? There are a lot of steps that need to be taken before the food you eat reaches your mouth, and on every step, the price goes up significantly. Farmers, distributors, and retailers all form part of the farming supply chain, a universal process that deals with the movement of raw and processed material from producer to consumer (Investopedia). While not very lucrative to the farmers themselves, there are reasons why this method remains the backbone of today’s agriculture industry.
Supply chains vary amongst different industries, but the chain of agricultural products begins with the harvest and all of the efforts put into the land before the crop reaches a healthy state. Farmers purchase the input supply of seeds, fertilisers, and farming material before the planting season has begun. At this stage, farmers who lack resources are left with a hard task to complete. Having to deal with much uncertainty in their daily lives, they have to play the 'guessing game' when it comes to investing in a certain crop. This job becomes complicated because they are unaware of the situations they might encounter months in advance. Whether it's market, weather, health or biological risks, many factors make the price of agricultural produce fluctuate spontaneously. An unprecedented change in temperature or the strike of a pest could potentially lead to lower yields or loss of income, two things that can be fatal to humble farmers.
This same problem is also the reason why third parties become the gateway from farmers to supermarkets. Large retailers cannot afford the uncertainty that pertains to farmers, which is why they confide in distributors to guarantee a stable amount of goods. This model works well, but it also means that the price must rise to pay the merchants what they deserve. It is easy to dislike the third parties, but in reality, a lot of work is put into the purchasing and delivery of these products. Merchants must allocate the best produce from several different farmers to ensure that their quality and quantity is always on point. They also have to provide transportation from the land to the market and pay the cost of storage. All of the logistics that go into the distribution of agricultural products is, in reality, an elaborate process, and one that farmers might not be equipt to handle.
If the agricultural industry were more fruitful to humble farmers, then maybe they could afford to eliminate the distributor; however, that is not the case. In consequence, most farmers are caught in a vicious cycle which they cannot escape. They don't have the resources needed to take their product to supermarkets directly and thus, must sell them at a much lower price. The high supply of agro-produce in Perú has led to distributors pushing for lower prices, which is why rural poverty prevails. One might think that it is about money distribution, but in reality, there will never be a win-win scenario. While farmers might spend days and nights working the land, distributors and retailers also put a lot of effort into their work.
Third parties exist because of the complexity of the supply chain; if you were to remove them the whole process would collapse. For example, ould you buy from a supermarket where you are unsure if the product of today will be there tomorrow? Consumers like certainty and stability, which is why the supply chain model is constantly followed. If retailers and supermarket chains were to buy directly from farmers, sure, the income of farmers might increase, but at what cost? With an ever-changing supply, the prices would rise and fall quickly, and the consumer would probably seek to buy their products elsewhere. Although inconvenient to the farmer, the increase of prices as you go up the supply chain is a bitter-sweet reality.
When Ariana and I went out to the field to conduct our interviews, we had a fixed mindset about what was going on. We thought that merchants were earning the money that pertained to farmers, but in the end, we found that this wasn't the case. Although farmers spend days working the land, third parties are also engaging in arduous work. While it is easy to blame the distributors, in reality, they are not the bad guys at all. If we eliminated the third parties, not only would farmers lose their link with supermarkets, but the stability of supermarkets would be damaged. Large retailers promise the buyer consistency in products, and with no third parties, the big companies like Wong and Vivanda would not have the guarantee of a stable amount of goods. If this were to happen, a supermarket may have quinoa one week, and the next week, none at all. After realizing this, we saw that we were pushing our documentary in a direction that it wasn't supposed to go, so we decided to change it completely. Although as of now, our film does not speak about the supply chain, I have to say that it was my greatest learning throughout the project when it comes to economic concepts. Don't get me wrong, there is a problem with the price of quinoa in the highlands of Peru, but it isn't related to the supply chain at all.
When I was three years old, my father decided to teach me how to ride a bike. To do this, he would hold me up on the seat and run along with me as I pedaled. If I ever fell, he would be right there, ready to catch me. This technique worked for a while, but I would always learn how to ride a bicycle during the summer and forget the next year. My dad didn't know what was going wrong. He'd go out to the sidewalk every day, but, despite his dedicated attempts, nothing seemed to work. Although he remained patient for a while, when I turned five, in an act of desperation, my father decided to try something new. My dad held me up and ran along with me like he usually did, but when I began pedaling on my own, he let me go. I drove my bike independently for a while, but when I noticed my dad wasn't there, I fell and scraped my knee. To be honest, it hurt like a b***h, but one thing is true: I never forgot how to ride a bike again. It was only through failing and having real consequence that I was truly able to learn how to ride a bike. It's a powerful lesson if anything, and something hard to understand for a five-year-old girl, but somehow this idea stuck with me, and I was reminded of it a couple of days ago.
This past week interim reports were due and let’s just say that not everyone was pleased with their grades. When I first saw what I had gotten for my IA classes, I was pretty outraged. I didn't feel like such a low score was portraying my effort, so my first instinct was to discuss it with Mr. Cotter. We had a pretty intense conversation, and at first, I was set on the idea that I deserved better. Still, after speaking for about an hour, I began to realize that while I did many positive things throughout this bimester, I also made a couple of mistakes that cost me a better grade. The conversation took place on Tuesday, and grades were due Friday, so I had some time to process the information. And as the days went by, I thought about it more, and the arguments that Mr. Cotter proposed began to have more sense in my mind.
On Friday, I talked to Mr. Cotter again, and he raised my grade for a few classes, but others remained the same. Nevertheless, I was happy with the score I received in the end because I knew what I had to do to improve it. Now you may be wondering how this connects to the first story I told, but in my perspective, they both deal with failure. Although in Innovation Academy we try to cultivate a mindset that grades are irrelevant, they do matter in the real world. The first things that colleges see when you submit your application is your high school GPA, and that is a frightening fact that students must acknowledge. It's hard to admit our mistakes, and easy to shy away from failure, especially when accepting your wrongdoings can lead to a conflict of interest. While we seek to improve, we also fear the fall, so we try our best to avoid it. This might lead to us thinking the problem is solved, but in reality, we are only neglecting any lesson that may come our way. By receiving an undeserved, better grade, we are riding our bicycles with our parents besides us; avoiding the fall, but not learning anything whatsoever. Bad or average grades are like tumbling down from your bike and hurting yourself. While the grades may hurt in the moment, you are sure as hell going to learn.
I do think that I succeeded in many ways throughout this year, but it will forever be imprinted that I got a 5 in English class. I know that this is not a failing grade, but I set myself up for high standards, and I honestly wish that by the end of the semester, this number can improve. In fact, I have already begun to implement some strategies that might help raise this number. I am writing my blogs a week in advance in order to receive more feedback, and my ‘english-speaking game’ may help us cultivate an english-speaking environment inside the class. For me, this grade was my scratch in the knee, it served as a reminder that I have to get better and learn how to get up and keep on going. And although it may be hurting right now, I know that this mistake will serve well in the future.
While wounds and scratches will leave us scars, those marks act as reminders of the many things that we have learned. Pain may hurt you now, but every error is a token for our growth. If we avoided the fall, how would we ever be expected to learn? Our failures and screw-ups make us who we are and teach us powerful lessons that we will never leave behind.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit Puno for my economics documentary. During my time there, I learned a lot about the lives of rural families, and how to portray their stories through film. I had the chance to experience Puno and its beautiful landscapes, but I'd have to say that my greatest learning happened in the most unexpected way.
It was Thursday afternoon, I had been up for 17 hours, and my head hurt from mountain sickness. Ari and I were out filming time lapses when I had a realization. Although the weather was cold and we were hungry as hell, I wouldn't rather be anywhere else.
I've had interesting projects before and worked my butt off for some, but I have never encountered a project that captivated me as much as this one did. I've invested many days and nights, and the project isn't even close to being completed. My deep involvement in this project only made think back to the time I was a sophomore. I remember last year there was one thing that Mr. Bonnici always said: your project is your baby. It's an odd expression if anything, and something I had trouble understanding. How could one become so immersed in a project, to the point that you can call it a part of yourself? It's something hard to wrap your head around, and when we were introduced to the economics documentaries, the idea seemed even more far-fetched.
Truthfully, it took me a while to get into the whole economics deal. I'm personally more of a science person, which is why I always found econ to be somewhat boring. I would have never imagined myself becoming enthralled by this topic, and much less when my research is centered around the price of quinoa (a relatively unattractive topic). In, the past would have yawned at the idea of building a documentary on this basis, but now I find myself eager to accomplish this task.
Even though my documentary has still room for improvement, I am confident that it'll reach it's highest potential. Because during the time I have spent studying this topic, I have delved deeply into the reasons why the quinoa prices changed; I've talked to experts and even travelled to Puno. I've gone through extreme measures to ensure that my project looks adept and professional, which is why I can now say with certainty: this documentary has truly become my baby, and I'll do anything to watch it succeed.
On winter break of 2012, I traveled to Europe with my family. We went on a 14-day trip to Germany, Italy, and the UK. Since my parents are known to be regular planning-freaks, every moment of our stay was carefully organized. Whether we were going on bike tours or visiting castles, the days were packed with various activities to ensure we never wasted a second, and up to the eleventh day, everything was going well. We had gone to the Coliseum and visited Amsterdam, the only thing remaining in the itinerary was our long-awaited trip to Wales. We had paid a tour guide to take us through the country's most beautiful sights, and things appeared to be going as planned. It wasn't until midday when suddenly the tour guide took the wrong turn, and we ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere.
At first, my parents were outraged; someone had ruined their carefully sought out plan. But as the tour guide got down from the car to ask for directions, he was amazed by what he saw. Across a tiny brick path and up a few rock steps, rested a giant lake, surrounded by hills and pine trees. The guide quickly called us to see the beautiful sight. The sun was setting, and the pink clouds painted the clear water a purple tone, it was breathtaking. After that day, our trip returned to normal; we continued with our activities until we went back to Lima. Although in summation, we encountered many beautiful scenes, stumbling upon the hidden lake in Wales was the most memorable part of our trip.
Now, there is a moral to this story, and it's about life and the errors one commits. On my trip to Europe, the path we took didn't end up being a wrong turn because something came out of it, and much like our small detour, life happens the same way. If you look back at your experiences and find yourself with regrets, think about all the positive repercussions that event had. Every step you take in life is essential. All of the detours and wrong turns will get you exactly where you need to be.
I was reminded of this lesson about two months ago when I was planning my summer internship. I had drawn out a schedule for the month of February, where I was supposed to fulfill my internship from the first to the twenty-ninth. I was set to go when suddenly, my mentor called to cancel. I was shocked and pretty worried, my perfect plan had been ruined (sounds familiar?). Since I knew I had no time to waste, I began calling contacts and asking my parents for their advice. In the end, I found out that my father's close friend was married to the manager of Peru's forensic laboratory, so I decided to give him a call. He offered me an internship at his lab during the last weeks of February, and since I was desperate I took it. Not long after accepting the opportunity, I realized I had the first weeks of the month free; So I took the time to plan a trip to visit colleges, and it was an incredible experience to have. In the end, I was able to visit universities, have ACT classes and work my butt off in an internship that allowed me to grow as a person. Although things didn't go as planned, and February ended up being a pretty intense month, I can conclude that I wouldn't have had it any other way.
If there is one thing I know for certain, it's that life is utterly unpredictable. Events transpire quickly, and for the most part, things don't go as planned. If you look at your experiences in retrospective, it's easy to spot out the things you would have done differently, but try and think of what you'd never change. The things we do and what happens to us shape us into the persons we are supposed to become. If my internship mentor wouldn't have cancelled, then I would have never interned at the forensic lab and gone to the university visits that changed the list of colleges to which I will apply. Forgive me for the cliché, but in life, everything happens for a reason. Actions lead you, mistakes prepare you, and wrong turns can take you places you never thought you'd go.
“The earth has music for those who listen.”