WPSU's This I Believe

This I Believe: I Believe In Teaching

2 hours ago
Nabil K. Mark/SCASD

This essay originally aired on January 4, 2018.  

I believe teaching is the best profession in the whole world. I am myself a high school German teacher and have been so for more than twenty years. 

This essay originally aired on December 21, 2017.  

My paternal grandmother, Helen, was a frugal and reserved woman with dyed-red curly hair. She always wore a 1960s-style house coat, even into the 1990s. We visited occasionally and I played with a few antique toys in the sunroom while the grown-ups talked in the den.

Helen enjoyed drinking tea and, I’m told, favored a weak brew. When I began drinking tea in the fourth grade, my parents compared the sweet, weak liquid I sipped to Helen’s. She passed away that spring, almost a year after her husband.

BookMark: "The Handmaid's Tale" By Margaret Atwood

Sep 20, 2018

I’m not sure I can really explain how much “The Handmaid’s Tale” means to me. (To clarify: I mean the book. Always the book.) I certainly wasn’t able to explain its significance a few years ago, when I met Margaret Atwood during her visit to Penn State. All I was able to get out was “Thank you. This is my favorite book,” and I knew that was inadequate.

This I Believe: I Believe In Libraries

Sep 13, 2018

I believe in libraries.

I was born in Colombia, a country where books were luxury items, public libraries were few and bookworms were considered arrogant. I grew up being shuffled from aunt to aunt and town to town while my mother was in the U.S., working to support us from a distance.

This I Believe: I Believe In Talking To Strangers

Aug 30, 2018

This essay originally aired on December 7, 2017.   

On a crisp day in October, I was on my daily walk through the Arboretum at Penn State. I had discovered my passion for photography there, and I was on a mission to photograph the roving gangs of chipmunks devouring the decorative pumpkins and gourds the Arboretum puts out at this time of year.

Suddenly, a stranger approached me. And immediately I thought, “Ugh. Go away. What do you want?” I thought about pulling out my cell phone to act busy. A gut, automatic reaction. 

This I Believe: I Believe In Old Photographs

Aug 16, 2018

This essay originally aired on April 12, 2018.  

This I Believe: I Believe In Mindful Attentiveness

Jul 5, 2018

This essay originally aired on Feb. 1, 2018.  

I believe in the small joy of washing with carrot-ginger soap.

I believe in baking five-grain rye bread with cracked rye berries, naturally leavened with sourdough and baked on a hot stone. Taking baths in the dark with candlelight. Canning dill green beans and pickling beets.

I believe in picnicking by wooded streams while waiting for my wife and friends to finish hiking, which I don’t believe in.

This I Believe: I Believe In Handcrafting

Jun 7, 2018

I believe in making things by hand.

I’m a glassblower. I trained as a scientific glassblower, and I made laboratory glassware for 30 years. Now I make decorative ornaments using the same material and skill set. The act of turning raw materials into a final product, whether for scientific research or decorative whimsy, is something I find personally rewarding. It’s uplifting to say, “I made that.”

 

I believe in the need for moderate activism to create a safer America.

I believe in dancing like nobody’s watching.

I began performing when I was three or four years old. My dance season began in late August and finished mid-June, and I went to ballet camps in the summer. This cycle continued for most of my childhood, and only intensified when I started high school.

This I Believe: I Believe We Must Remember The Armenian Genocide

Apr 26, 2018

I believe we must remember the past so it doesn’t repeat itself.

I believe in owning a terrible first car.

Growing up, I was someone who eagerly awaited my sixteenth birthday, counting down the days until I could finally drive. I craved the freedom that came with a license, not having to rely on my parents to pick me up from practice or drive me to work. Like many of my friends, though, the first car I drove was old and beat up.

This I Believe: I Believe In Calling My Parents

Mar 15, 2018

Normally, I have a lot of anxiety about talking on the phone. I get scared that I won’t be able to hear the person on the other end, or that I won’t know the answer to their questions. I try to avoid phone calls at all costs. But my parents are one of the few exceptions. I believe in calling my parents every day, especially while I’m away from home. 

This I Believe: I Believe In Simplicity

Mar 1, 2018

I believe in simplicity. I believe in the magic of sharing homemade peanut butter sandwich crackers in the back of the afternoon school bus. I believe in tattered baseball caps worn in with sun spots. I believe in seeing the yellow flowers people call weeds for the beauty they are.

When I was little, my mom warned me time and again that if I became nearsighted, I’d only have my bad habit of reading under my comforter with a tiny flashlight to blame. I didn’t listen because in “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” there was no worrying about eye care. There was just traveling across the ocean through the eyes of an explorer and feeling page-long names of sea creatures swim past my fingertips. A whole bunch of things in that book were made up, but I loved it.

I believe in science fiction.

Essayist Taylor Mason-Little.
Min Xian / WPSU

My mom recently visited me for the Penn State vs. Michigan game. Since we live in California, she only gets the opportunity to visit once a semester, so we always try to make the most of our time together.

Here, I live in a house with eleven of my close friends. When my mom came to visit, she treated us all to dinner. My friends went out of their way to thank her more than once. At the end of the night, my mom pulled me aside to comment on how polite my friends were and how nice they seemed.

While my mom was taken aback, I wasn’t surprised at all.

This I Believe: I Believe In Lists

Nov 9, 2017

Every Saturday morning, my mom makes her grocery list. As the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and chocolate chip muffins envelops us, my mom neatly pens what we need for the week. She spreads out flyers from ACME and Giant on our kitchen table. Bold words of “sale” and “buy one get one half off” are intermingled with vibrant pictures of ripe oranges and delicious processed sugars. Next to all of this chaos is my mom’s simple handwritten list: strawberries, sliced ham, bread, milk, and butter.

My mom is a list-maker. And I am too.

This I Believe: I Believe In Watches

Oct 26, 2017

In the introduction of the book “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Douglas Adams writes that the earth is “an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” By making this jibe at the human race, he pokes fun at our exceeding fascination with simple things, and how we over complicate what was perfectly good in the first place by redundantly reinventing it. He has a point.

This I Believe: We Believe In Getting Dirty

Oct 12, 2017
Joan Vohl Hamilton and Abbe Hamilton.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

JOAN VOHL HAMILTON:  When I was a child in the early 1960’s, my clothing fell into three categories: school clothes, church clothes, and the best clothes of all: play clothes. My play clothes were worn out get-ups that didn’t earn me a scolding if they got dirty or ripped. I didn’t generally wear shoes with my play clothes: in the spring, summer and fall, my bare feet got me where I wanted to go.

This I Believe: I Believe In My Religion

Sep 28, 2017

I believe in my religion. More specifically, I believe in having the option to choose whether or not I believe in my religion.

When I first left home for college, I was away from my family and had the freedom to discover my own beliefs. I was quickly bombarded with questions about beliefs that had always felt so normal to me.

“Why are you following those rules?”

“Your mom isn’t even here.”

“Do you actually believe in God and all that stuff?”

This I Believe: I Believe In Sharing Food

Aug 3, 2017
Samantha Bastress
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in sharing food.

Growing up in Penns Valley, I became accustomed to a community that shared the fruits of its labor. Fresh produce was abundant due to the many farmers in the area, and neighbors shared recipes and baked dishes for friends in need.

This I Believe: I Believe In Connections

Jul 20, 2017

I believe in connections.

I see them everywhere, every day. Whether it be between a comment a housemate made and a thought I had a couple months ago, or between an article I read online and the rules of a card game I used to play when I was younger.  But the best kinds of connections are the ones between people.

Greg Petersen in a radio studio
Bill Wallace / WPSU

This is my second This I Believe essay. The first was in 2008 when I extolled the virtues of the Chicago Cubs as a metaphor for the game of life. You may have setbacks, but like the Cubs you have to persevere. Now that my Cubbies have reached the pinnacle of baseball, it’s time to set new sights.

I’ve just retired from a 45-year career in public broadcasting and to say I believe in pubic media, would be an understatement. Besides having a mission to inform, educate and even entertain, public media’s role in today’s society is more essential than ever. 

I believe my dad watches over me.

This I Believe: I Believe In Being An Advocate

Jun 8, 2017

I believe in being an advocate.

When I was younger, I wanted another sibling. As much as I loved my two little brothers, I always wished for a sister. Thankfully at the age of 10, I was finally granted my wish. My parents told me I had a new baby sister on the way. I was also told something else. My sister was going to have something a little extra special about her.  She was going to have Down syndrome. As a 4th grader, I didn’t really know much about this. I was mostly just worried, unsure of what Down syndrome would mean for me and what it would mean for my baby sister.

This I Believe: I Believe In Switching Seats

May 25, 2017
Lilly Caldwell
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in switching seats.

When I was in 5th grade I was great at switching seats. I sat at different lunch tables every day. I hung out with people older than me. I hung out with people my age. I had tons of friends. But I didn’t have any I was super close with. That all changed when I reached 6th grade. Starting the second semester, I was only at one lunch table; I only sat in one seat. I was part of something called "Super Squad."

This I Believe: I Believe In Working With My Hands

May 11, 2017

Like many children, I had a set of blocks and a tree house to play with when I was little. Mine were special, though - my grandfather built them. Dazzled by his ability to work with his hands and obsessed with firefighters, I asked him to build me a working fire truck. Although the finished product did not quite match my dream, it was a mechanical marvel and a testament to my grandfather’s skill. It was made almost entirely of wood, including the steering wheel, axles, and ladder.

 Biyun Song and her grandma on a snowy mountain
Biyun Song

My grandma is 60 years older than me. But that doesn’t stop us from traveling together.

Our footprints cover many regions of the world -- from Sichuan, China to Taiwan, from Thailand to South Korea, from France to Italy. We have been traveling together for more than 15 years.

I Believe In Making Bad Art

Jan 19, 2017
Meghan Shiels holding a painting of a Nittany Lion and a night scene.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

A few months ago I set out to paint a picture. I sat there with a blank canvas, paints, and brushes and imagined how beautiful the end result would be. I could already envision it hanging in my room, displayed proudly for all to see. But as the painting progressed, I began to realize that the beautiful painting in my head was likely to stay only in my imagination. The colors were ugly, the image was misshapen, and the image was taking on a disturbing resemblance to a child’s finger painting. By the time I was finished, it was truly awful.

This I Believe: I Believe In Coffee

Dec 8, 2016
Essayist Becca DeGregorio
Min Xian / WPSU

This essay originally aired on September 7, 2016.

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