Growing up in a community that provided no hope, gave me a reason to want to make a difference. My mom was able to finish high school, and my dad only finished elementary school, but my father very much understood the value of education. When I was growing up, he always told me that, if he was educated, we would not suffer today. His desire to instill that value in me, inspired me. It hurts my dad to see that we struggle to pay rent, pay for school, and buy food. My mom also inspired me and taught me how to be grateful for the good and bad times. She always told me that, if my dad could do everything for us, then we may never be grateful or seize opportunities for ourselves. I learned from her how important it is to work hard and strive for success, but to also be grateful for the little things. I had no reason to believe in the power of education. The schools I attended were corrupt, and there was no other way to improve them but to hope that things get better. I had teachers who never came to class. Even when reported, administrators turned a blind eye. I attended a different school, and the level of corruption was even worse. Teachers forced students to sleep with them for better grades. Despite these circumstances, my parents guided me and motivated me to aim for the stars even though the odds were against me. Every single transition of my life from Cotonou, Benin Republic to the United States has made me realize that, as a human being, there will always be ups and downs. The key is to stay positive and focused, and to surround yourself with people who inspire you.


Obinna Mouh

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