This I Believe
Kyle and Korey… Katie and Nadia… Andy and Michelle. These are just six names of my 19 cousins. Not to mention the 12 aunts and uncles I also have, two of which live with my grandmother in the house they grew up in. Until a few months ago I lived with my mom, dad, and brother: Ben. All but four of these 32 family members live within a 30 minute drive from my home. I see each of these people frequently every year, and for that I am extremely grateful. To me, nothing is more important than family.
My dad’s mother is the only grandparent that I remember. Although she lives with two of her children, our family used to worry about her loneliness; this led to a weekly tradition of all of her children, grandchildren, and now three great-grandchildren going to her house every Saturday night to order takeout and watch whatever sporting event was on that evening. This may seem like too much family to a lot of people, but to me, my cousins are like siblings, and my aunts and uncles are like second parents.
My mom’s side of the family does not see each other quite as often as my dad’s, but my feelings towards them are still the same. Unlike a weekly tradition, we have other traditions that keep us close. One of these is a two-day Thanksgiving tradition. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because my mom’s entire family gets together, including some of her cousins and their children. We spend the day catching up, then split into two tables: one for the kids and one for the adults. Our talks at the kids’ table haven’t changed much over the years. This past Thanksgiving, my 28 year-old cousin asked the table: would you rather fight a horse sized duck, or 100 duck sized horses. You would not believe how in-depth and controversial of a debate this question sparked. Ridiculous questions were asked: “Does the duck weigh as much as a horse? Because then it could not fly.” Changes were made to the question: “We should say a goose instead of a duck because geese are more aggressive animals.” After dinner and of course some football, we all said our goodbyes. But that is not the end to our Thanksgiving tradition; the following night we get together for a night of fun playing Bunco. If you don’t know, it is a game of rolling dice and pure chance. [Pause] we take this game too seriously. No matter where you are in the house, you can hear people yelling “roll faster!” or “BUNCO!” Everything is just in good fun, and I’m not joking when I say that we all look forward to these days year-round.
Although I believe families should enjoy the time that they spend together, there is always a time for seriousness. There have been many times when my cousins call me and ask to just have a conversation about what’s going on in their life. Often they are going through tough times and need advice or just someone to talk to. We would never turn each other away.
The night before I left for Penn State, I was with my family for my little cousin’s birthday party, her name is Eden. We all talked, played games, and soaked each other with an unreasonable amount of water balloons and surprise hose attacks. Everyone enjoyed the entire night until it was time to leave. Eden, who had just turned five, cried and cried that she wouldn’t be seeing some of her big cousins for a few months. When I got to my car and was ready to head home, she came running to me with drawings so that I wouldn’t forget her while I was away, and it finally hit me that I would not be seeing my family for a while and I became emotional. My whole life had been spent with my family and now I would be left to make a second life at college.
Throughout my first semester in college, I would call my family frequently. Occasionally I would call while everyone was at my grandma’s house and briefly speak with everyone there. But sometimes I would get busy and forget about what was going on at home. Last semester, in the middle of finals week, I realized I had gone two weeks without speaking with either of my parents. I wanted to keep studying, but instead called my parents thinking to myself: if I can’t make time for family, what is worth making time for? This I believe: Family is Everything.
For my specialty blog I would like to either talk about tennis or controversial issues. I would talk about matches, players, and big tennis accomplishments in the past if I choose to write about tennis. If I chose controversial issues I would write about my opinions on current topics and maybe talk about things I think will become controversial in the future.
For the This I Believe assignment I want to talk about family or traditions. My family is extremely close and my cousins are basically siblings to me. My family has had a huge influence on my life and obviously my upbringing so that is my number one idea. If I were to choose tradition, I would talk about the importance of them for spending time with people and which traditions mean the most to me personally and why.
For the civic issues assignment I want to talk about politics or education. There are very different opinions about both of these. I am interested in the effects of party polarization so if I chose politics I would probably write about that. There are benefits and drawbacks to the two-party system that I would address in my writing. I am very interested in education and believe something very big will happen in the coming years to change education. I might write about the differences in education around the country or how our education system compares to countries with different education processes.
I gave my Ted Talk about the relationship between homosexuality and Christianity. Overall, I think I did a pretty good job getting my message across and speaking confidently, but I definitely could have done better. I clearly said what I would like to throughout my talk, but I did not show how confident I was in discussing my topic.
There were a few things I did not do very well. Right away, I stumbled on my intro and turned around to glance at the screen and I forgot I had the slides right in front of me. I have no idea why I could not manage to say “I will be talking about the relationship between homosexuality and the Christian Church” without pausing before saying “Christian Church.” The bright lights and just getting nervous about speaking in front of a group must have got to me. I notice that throughout my talk, I often spoke fairly quickly. Sometimes I seemed to notice this and slow down, but the speed changes made my talk seem less practiced and unprofessional. Also, there were some facts and stats that I had memorized that, under the pressure of speaking and being graded, I forgot the exact numbers (66% approval vs. 68%) and verse (Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is an abomination -Leviticus 18:22) I had used to prove my points. The pressure of the speech and small mistakes I made with my words only helped to make me more nervous and make more small mistakes, but I definitely did a few things well.
Throughout my presentation, I looked like I definitely understood my topic. I clearly looked like I had practiced my speech even though I stumbled on words and certain facts. The best part of my presentation was its organization. Everything seemed to flow in order of time; it began with the problem, then talked about change, and concluded with how the church is changing its views (granted slowly). I particularly enjoyed the stories I told about going to Pittsburgh and hearing about how my aunt’s church had fired a gay pastor and also the other story about how my church is supporting gay marriage. It related personal life to my topic well, and also helped me regain my confidence mid-presentation. Overall, I conveyed my message clearly and effectively, but it was clear that my nervousness was preventing me from saying everything as smoothly as I would have liked.