Each day I pose and reflect on the impact of school, family and friends on my life, I cannot help but see the very people and things that have shaped me into what I am today. Since from day one, my family has been very supportive and encouraging. Schooling has come at a cost, but it has enlightened me on so many issues that otherwise I would have been ignorant of. Society, through family, friends and community and a proper education are apt defining factors of my personality.
Ours is a very close-knit nuclear family. I cannot remember when we did not have supper together at the family dinner table without due reason. It constitutes of my father, a lawyer by profession and an educationist by principle; my mother, a nurse by trade and an apt disciplinarian and my brother who is ten years my junior. My father has always been very encouraging, motivating and always there for me when I am down. My zeal to pursue academics can all be attributed to him. I remember him coming to primary school to attend the Academics Day. He encouraged and gave me hope that I would improve in Mathematics even if I was second last. His words were so sincere and even though my friends had made me a laughingstock, I vowed right then to work hard.
The fact that I am very disciplined is due to my mother who brought us up under strict Christian principles. She has a knack for zero tolerance of any indiscipline and improper mannerisms. She detests laziness and has always insisted that handwork coupled with a well-organized and neat personality is the key to success. My very funny kid brother has always taught me to smile at life’s absurdities. Observing him grow, especially when he was learning to walk, taught me that even if life’s obstacles might seem insurmountable, it was a matter of time before we conquer them.
One of the key things I have learnt from my family is to be selflessly accommodating and always be open for dialogue. Watching my father handle a crisis inspires me. He is always cool and collected and he is the epitome of admiration. When my temper flares be it at home or at school, he is the figure I recall in my mind. On the other hand, my mother has always been full of concern. Sometimes, I feel that she worries too much. Her tender hands always make me loved and a need for protection, a special kind of connection between a mother and child. It instills the need to be responsible, honest and trustworthy even without her saying it.
Schooling has not come without its challenges. Being separated from my mother, who was then a housewife, was one of the painful necessities in my life. In lower primary, I learnt some of the basic skills used in judging any country’s development index: reading, writing and arithmetic which are the core factors defining literacy. My first grade teacher was a tall lady whom we kids all feared. Somehow, the nostalgic image that comes to mind is that of a towering lady demanding concentration and respect as she instills our first academic knowledge. From her, I learnt the basics of literacy but most of all, the art and skill of listening: being still, quiet and attentive. After progressing to upper grades, I was able to clearly define what I want to become in future, an economist. This goal could not have been envisioned were it not for my teachers. Most important in this decision-making was my usually reflective and philosophical eighth grade teacher, who never failed to remind us to work with the end in mind. When he rarely opened up, he used to talk of various professionals and exciting careers. Finally, one hot Wednesday afternoon, he started off on a history class only to mention one of the greatest economists of all time, Vilfredo Pareto, a former engineer.
Schoolmates have been instrumental in shaping me. I have picked certain habits, knowledge and behavior which otherwise could not have been instituted elsewhere. Though some like truancy earned me a beating, others like learning how to share selflessly are attributes that last an entire lifetime. Fast friendships and cronies are tried and tested in school. Birds of a feather are said to flock together hence a person’s character is not only molded but reflected in a group. When we chose not to attend classes for a day and go strolling and ‘sight-seeing’ in town in seventh grade, we had no idea how heavy the cane would fall on our backs. This served as a reminder on responsibility and a correction on our individual and collective behavior. High school has been another molding point of my life. It comes as quite a surprise from the rather duller primary school life. Leadership is one of the hardest skills to acquir4e and its said to be inborn. So when I got elected as first year’s representative in athletics, it came along with its opportunities, challenges and learning avenues. Being entrusted to guide a group is an experience worthwhile. It not only conveys maturity and responsibility but also presents an opportunity for self-improvement. Mingling with different students and teachers, at times multi-racial with highly contrasting backgrounds, other than your primary school friend presents more exposure. It is therefore evident that a man’s character can only be shaped by his environment, in this case, school and family.
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