Lesson 1: #ForEveryChild, Motherly Love, and Career Changes

October 4, 2018 || #ForEveryChild with Benjamin Perks

It was 8:00 pm and, like most of the events I attend in college, I spontaneously walked across campus to a unknown building for a possible speech/activity, and–like always–I was not disappointed. I spent an hour learning from Mr. Benjamin Perks, a UNICEF Representative currently based in Macedonia, as he taught a group of 20-some strangers about children’s standards of living and the lack of care they were given. With this, I had 3 main takeaways:

  1. As of 2019, I plan to pursue a career in infectious disease prevention in children,
  2. I am immensely grateful for the people who surround me and provide support that many other people don’t receive, and
  3. You learn best from those you love because you can respect them. These were Mr. Perks closing words as he recounted his experience growing up as a juvenile delinquent and the process of becoming the person he was that day with the help of his school teacher. That night, as I walked back to my dorm, I impulsively called my mother (this was the first time I called anyone since I arrived at college in August) to tell her about what I learned. It went something like this: “Don’t worry, I’m not in danger,” I prefaced as it was very late and the first time I’d called her, “I just came from a lecture about mistreated children.” At this point, she was probably wondering why her eldest child called to discuss mistreated children… but I quickly assured her, “I’m not saying I was abused or ever felt mistreated, but I actually felt the opposite.” I went on to tell her about what Mr. Perks told me, “I wanted to tell you that you are one of the most impactful people I have ever known. I have learned so much from you and I see you as my greatest role model. I was told that we learn best from those we love… and I wanted to let you know I learn the most from you.” I can’t remember the last time I told anyone I loved them and, technically, I still haven’t let those words come from my mouth. But the implied meaning of my final statement let her known how much I love her.

I realized the amount of love I received as a child is not a common treatment for children around the world. #ForEveryChild unites people around the world to share their stories on the theme: What I want for every Child. Every child has the right to receive a disease-free childhood and a life full of love and respect, and I hope to make an impact on those around me to uphold this belief.

The UNICEF-OSU Presentation with Benjamin Perks. I am standing in the middle with Mr. Perks to my left.

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