By Lewanda Powell
Central High School 12th Grade – First Place
Experiences. We all have them, good or bad, but what are they exactly? Experiences are the total events in the past of an individual's life. Things that have happened before, that determine what type of person we are today. Some experiences make us better people. However, on the other hand, some experience can tear us down and can cause people to become emotional wrecks. It is only up to you to decide what your experiences make of you. Needless to say, I know this from EXPERIENCE!
Nearly seventeen years ago, a young woman, aged nineteen, had her life changed drastically forever. Imagine leaving your home, the beautiful island of ST. Croix, only to migrate to the fast paced lifestyle of the Big Apple-New York. Think about it; now think about having a newborn baby to take care of as well. Thinking about it is mind-boggling, but experiencing it is terrifying. Unfortunately, my mother had to do so, and she did it almost fearlessly.
Nineteen, a time when college kids are experiencing once in a lifetime thrills. A time when they just totally freak out and do things that they'll later regret in their wiser years. A time when they are presumably finding themselves and learning who they are. Truth be told, my mom had to do so in half the time since she was a new mother. She had no time for parties, games, friends and leisure time. She had a responsibility and responsibility was me. I'm glad to say that my mother's story isn't as sad as others. She had support all along the way. She had a husband and a mother that was always there for her in any possible way. I think that help gave my mom the extra push that she needed to preserve.
Three years later, my mother was blessed with another baby, a boy. It wasn't as strenuous because she was older and was more experienced with being a mom. Although it wasn't going to be easy, my mother had made a decision to go to college to further her education. With hard work, ambition, and immutable determination she gained the impetus to be a tireless mom, dedicated wife, and outstanding student. My mother found time to do things like help me with my homework, turn in twenty paged research papers, tuck my brother and me into bed, cook great meals, come to PTA meetings, throw birthday parties, and even study for college mid-terms all with a smile.
About four or five years later, my brother was strolling down the aisle of the Brooklyn College auditorium. Her hard work had paid off and she had finally done it. She worked as a social worker for many years in New York, Florida and lastly, ST. Croix. She is now the director of a non-profit organization right here on ST. Croix.
My mother thanks God everyday for her two precious kids and also the experiences that she went through in life. Be it good or bad, it has made her a stronger, wiser, and phenomenal black woman. I have also learned from my mom's experiences. It has taught me to never give up in life and also to always strive for the best because with perseverance you will certainly achieve.
By Malik Felix
Central High School 11th Grade – First Place
My first lesson on my law of Life came at an early age in my childhood. When I was younger I was very spoiled due to the fact that I was my parents first child, the first grand child, and also the first nephew. I liked having my own way and getting everything I wanted. When I was almost four years of age I was very much into Batman and Robin. I told my mother I want a Batman Big Wheel tricycle for my forth birthday. She told me I could get one if I would listen and ride carefully. When my birthday came I got my big wheel. For the first couple of days I rode it carefully because my mom was watching me. On a Saturday morning while my mom was sleeping I snuck outside and got on the tricycle. I didn't listen and carried the bike up our stairs and zoomed down from the top of the stairs, around and down the last three steps I made a turn so I could hear my tires screech like a stunt man on a movie screen. As I hit the last step my bike tumble and I fell and knocked out three of my front teeth. My mom heard the noise and rushed outside. She told me who don't hear will feel.
"Who don't Hear will Feel", from a young stage in my life I have been hearing this statement, but wasn't old enough to comprehend what it meant. As I got older and my mind grew I started to bring together a meaning for this statement. I found the statement was saying whenever someone tells you something for your own good you must listen and take it into consideration because if you don't whatever you are doing would not turn out for the best. As I grew and started to understand what the statement was telling me I still didn't listen to what some of my elders were saying to me.
Last December I realized that although I came to understand what the statement was saying I was not adapting to it. For my whole life my mother and father would always tell me to wear shoes in the yard, but I wouldn't listen and they would just tell me "Who don't Hear will Feel". In December of 2002 I was helping my grandfather take some groceries out of his truck and I didn't have any shoes on. As I was climbing into the truck I slipped and cut my foot on the truck's bumper. I was carried to the hospital were I got 11 stitches. After I got home my father told me he had also had some bad experiences from not wearing shoes and that's why he always told me to put my shoes on. That day I realized that people don't just tell you things because they want to talk, but because they are trying to help you.
After many mistakes I have come to find out that whenever someone is telling you that to do it is because they have been through a similar situation or has seen someone during their struggles.
By Oreese O'Reilly
Central High School 10th Grade – First Place
The "Fruits of Life" to me are guidelines or a chain of disciplinary actions I have learned from my parents. These guidelines are Love, Respect, Obedience, Joy, Patience. Kindness. Gentleness and Self-control As a teenager growing up in the Virgin Islands these are "Laws of life" that my parents have instilled in me.
Love. I was taught to love everyone no matter what race, color or religion. My parents did not just teach me this, they lived it. My mother and grandmother often instil in me that if I love everyone, not everyone is going to love me back. But because God created us all in His image and we are to love each other (even our enemies) as we love our self. My parents display strong positive emotions and affection towards everyone. I can't help but love everyone, no matter the circumstances.
Respect. I was taught that respect will go a long way if I wear it properly. If I respect myself and others I will achieve goals. I am very respectful towards everyone, especially people who are senior in ages. I can learn many things from them.
Obedience- There is a favorite saying my grandmother uses. "Obedience is better than sacrifice." Once in my bible class at St. Mary's school my teacher told us that children are to obey and respect their parents. She went on to say that when children are disobedience to parents they have very short lives. I want to live a long and prosperous life so I will always be obedient to my parents and every human being I come in contact with. That old saying of my grandmother is so true in my life today. I had friends who did not obey their parents or anyone and are either in juvenile delinquent homes or dead.
Joy- Because of my up bringing and the positivity around me. I have learned to be joyful. Many times there are things that want but cannot get them because my parent's priority is not to pamper me with material things. There are many places that I want to go with my
friends and cannot because I have parents who set guidelines that, I may learn from. When I look back into my past life, I thank God for parents who set restrictions because most of my young friends are no longer on this earth. I am joyful and thankful for parents who taught me this law of life.
Patience- The laws of life that relate to patience is my ever wondering mind. I sometimes feel a rush to grow up. As a young teenager, I sometimes want to wear things that are not suited for my age. I sometimes want to go places I am not allowed go because of my age. I want to go to College to be the best multimedia specialist in Virgin Islands, but it takes patience and time to achieve those goals. In the mean time , I will be patient and learn all the things I need to know so that when the time comes I am ready to accomplish and all the goals I have set before me.
Kindness- For me to be warm-hearted and considerate of others is a law worth honoring. I have experienced that if we are warm-hearted and kind to others, you will receive the same treatment from others . Kindness and respect goes hand in hand with each other.
Gentleness – Being mild of manners Of mild in my disposition is also a law of life that was instilled in me. As a young girl I must display softness in my manners and dispositions. I have experienced unnecessary arguments because of lack of gentleness. I know the famous saying that states "It is not what you say but how you say it." We can be gentle in our every day responses to life situations to avoid unnecessary confusions.
Self-Control- The act of denying me or controlling my impulses is one of the hardest laws of life. But I have learned that there is so much educational things in life to occupy my time, that I have total self control. I am involved in community services such as, St. Croix Majorette, cooking activities, computer classes, providing care for the elderly, that my time is of essence.
I am the seeds of positive laws of life. My parents have taught me and displayed before me love, 'Respect, Joy, patience , kindness and Self-control. The greatest of all these attribute is LOVE.
By Nikoia Fredericksen
Central High School 9th Grade – First Place
In life there comes many opportunities for you. It is your choices that make up the character you set for yourself. As each day goes by you learn something new and you save what you've learned. In time you pick up these traits and it becomes the laws of your life. You brace yourself for the miracles and heartache to come. Come enter my life and see what I have learned.
My childhood was happy. My family taught me bow to have personal values. That is until I went to live with my mother. Let me take you back to the year 1999. I had just moved in with my mother for the first time in my life. At the age of ten I was happy to finally be with her. I met my stepfather, James. I guess he was all right at first. As the weeks passed however, I did not realize the pain my mother was going through. Until one day I came home from school and they were arguing. I did not pay any mind to it because adults have occasional arguments. All of a sudden he started to beat her. I just stood there and cried. Now that I think about it I wish I could have done something. I slept beside my mom that night in the hospital and that is where I learned my first law. ** Looks can be deceiving*. I would have never thought that he would place his hands on my mothers' precious face. You would think that she would leave him, but I guess the love ties they had were too strong. Then I learned that there is a price for everything including love. Nothing that is worth having exceeds it's time.
Months passed by and the same actions would keep repeating themselves. The sad thing about it is that no one tried to help us. They talked and never put a foot forward to give us a hand. I then learned that you have to help yourself before you can expect others to help you. Every night I cried and wondered what went through her head. Why did she continue to let him hurt our family? School was the only place where I could relieve myself of these stresses. I had to find something that I could be the star in. That is why I excelled in my grades. The only thing that I regret is that I never told anyone how I felt. The hate inside me kept building up. I knew eventually I would blow but I did not even care.
Finally the day came and she left James. We moved into a nicer apartment. We were happy for a time until she found a boyfriend. I was upset because I did not know why my brothers, my sister and me did not satisfy her. I figure now that children can never take the place of a husband or wife. This new boyfriend was worse. He would not only beat her but also threatened to kill us. I was always frightened to be near him. Every time he would come close to me I would get chills down my spine. He would not allow my mother to have male friends. He broke her from our family. Jealousy is one of the most deadly sins. It puzzled me because my mother allowed him to treat her like a child. I give her props because she did fight back but that was not enough. It hurt me more than she will ever know. To get away from him we moved but she kept taking him back. Then we would move again. It was hard for me to keep friends so that helped me to be a flexible person. I changed to at least four different schools in a year's time. I came to realize that if she really loved me she would break us from this horrible lifestyle. She put her boyfriend before us. That kept my self-esteem on a low.
My brother and I were rescued when my father came for us. It was such a sigh of relief. But I kept thinking about my little sister and brothers. They were still suffering. Then I got to relieve all of the emotions I was holding back. I released my fears, anger and hate. I felt loved again. My personality was restored. I had the presence of God in my life. I learned that no matter how bad you think you have it there is someone who has it much worse than you do. My father helped me out a lot. I am appreciative of what he has done for me because most fathers do not stay around. As I grew older I loved my father and stepmother more. I also hated my mother more. I kept the frame of mind that I did not need her. But deep down I knew that I did. No one can ever take the place of the woman who brought you to this world. You must honor your mother and your father. To add insult to injury my mother would call and ask why I left her. She would ask if I did not love her. That helped to tear me apart. My stepmother did what she could to help me but I was starting to become rebellious. I was entering adolescence and my feelings about who I was became rattled.
It took me some time to get myself back together. To figure out what really was my purpose. I found friends who boosted my confidence. They helped me to see that there is a bigger picture to what I had in mind. Everything was going as fine as it gets when my mother told my brother and I that she wanted to see us again. I hesitated but I felt the need to see my siblings again.
I was so grateful to see my little brothers and sister again. But there was a price to this visit. My grandmother was dying. By the time I had reached she had already passed away. It seemed like every time I see my mother I feel pain. The funeral passed and I came to the fact that she would never return to give me one last kiss. I learned that no matter how hard you try you cannot turn back the hands of time. Each action you make becomes the past before you know it. The thing that surprised me the most was that my mother had taken James back once again. He made a promise to me that he would never hurt my family again. I learned to forgive and forget. The vacation was nice until everyone's true self-started to show. My mother envied my stepmother because she had everything she hoped for that was quite funny to me because my mother had the opportunity to have those very same things. James and my mother still fought. But there is a dif
ference. My brother and I were not little children any more. We interceded in the fights and shook both of them a little. Our newfound strength surprised them. I did not crylike I did when I was a child. Instead I protected my siblings like she should have done. I felt sorry for my mom and her husband because they are yet to realize that they have taken my siblings innocence away. They exposed us to a world that we were too young to be in that is why I have matured so.
By the time I came back the relationship between my mother and I had worsened. We were worst enemies. But I did not care. I lived my life and excluded her as much as possible. Every time she would call me it would be to rain on my parade. The night of my final exam she called me to tell me that her husband had raped my little sister. I fell into a world of depression. I could not stop thinking about her little face. It made me have a hate for the world. How could God allow this to happen? Why was he trying to break me down? I spent many nights contemplating on what I could do. With the support of my family I got through it. I got to the understanding that there is always a way out.
The most important law I learned is that EVERYTHING lasts for only a time. Sadness, struggle, fear, happiness and even life last for only a short period but you can make it through it all. We each have a sole purpose. We need to not ever forget that there is something better waiting for you. Be patient and have reverence. If we try hard and work towards a positive goal we can make the world a better place. You should never have too much pride to ask for help. Do not let your past determine your future. Just like I have you can move on and be a world changer.