2022 Composition Winner

Karishma Malakar #3

“I don’t have a pencil”. This was a phrase I often heard in middle school. The teacher had to stop the lesson to give the same student a pencil. I thought to myself, ‘who doesn’t bring a pencil with them to school? They need to be more prepared.

In high school, it was the same deal. The teacher had to stop the lesson to wake — up, again. How hard is it to go to bed at 10:00 and be well rested for the next day?

These are all guilty thoughts I had when being an ignorant individual. I just wanted to get on with the math lesson, but I was not realizing what was going on. It starts with forgetting a pencil. Then it is getting judged for it by peers. Trying to think of what to do at lunch, while your friends eat and your stomach growls for food. Then having to think of an excuse to tell your 5th period teacher of why you fell asleep in their class. And on top of all that, your English teacher makes you popcorn read. Why did she choose you? Doesn’t she remember what happened last time you read? The way the class started laughing when you mispronounced the word “because”. And the way they rolled their eyes as you struggled to finish the paragraph.

Only when analyzing these situations through the individual’s perspective do we start to gain compassion and grace. Some people aren’t fortunate enough to see through the individual’s perspective. It is a vicious cycle that ends up repeating itself; students getting ridiculed and then judged with no hesitation.

After having different experiences, my perspective changed. It was a difficult process, but through different volunteer work, clubs and programs my perspective gradually changed.

Since I was little, I would tag along with my mom to help at a local Migrant Summer School. As I got older, I tutored students in classes and helped with class tasks. I progressed and started to help kids my age. It was then when I realized that many of those students could not pronounce everyday words. Some could not even read for that matter. I noticed that the students that struggled academically were the one who were disruptive in class. It wasn’t intentional, but it was how they hid their insecurities.

Despite the academic struggles students face, it was when my Leadership class had hosted hygiene and food drives that changed my view. Seeing that a lot of the materials needed were basic necessities; toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, etc. was heartbreaking. Many of the things I have were the things others longed for. Being in the club helped me gain the trust of students and helped me understand the unfortunate situations. It has led me to admire those students for their strength and resilience.

From an ignorant perspective one does not see life from the perspective of the student without a pencil. That student was the same one who’s family is struggling with a medical diagnosis. Now I understand why the 5th period teacher lets the student sleep in class. They have to wake up early and get their siblings ready for school and then have to rush to work after school to support their family. What people see as a ”sleeping kid”, I see as an innocent child that was robbed of a childhood. The person with a stutter is the same person who suffers from a severe anxiety disorder. The misconception students face is the lack of perspective. Being raised in a middle class family, I always had my parents home for help. I always had more than enough food and my only “job” was to keep my grades up and be a kid. I got to celebrate Christmas with gifts. And be involved in activities. I am an honors kid that did not struggle. I always had friends and family who cared. My biggest struggle was deciding on an outfit every morning.

Having many things has made me lose sight of everything I have. While it took me longer than I wished, I realize now that not everyone has help, friends or even a support system. It has changed my perspective to be more understanding and to have grace with myself. The misinterpretations people have on others is misleading, but it starts with a pencil. For some, a pencil is a tool, an utensil, a

helping hand, but for me, it is a new perspective.