WPSU's This I Believe

Essayist Mo Jingxi
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in the kindness of people. 

 

Many people have been kind to me here in State College over the past three months.

 

What would you wish for if you are going to stay in a foreign country for the first time by yourself? For me, I wanted to adapt to the new life as soon as possible and make some friends. 

 

Fortunately, I did that because of the kindness people offered to me.

 

The first day I arrived, my Chinese roommates, who I didn’t know before, asked whether I’d like to join their weekend trip to Cleveland.

 

This I Believe: I Believe In High Heels

Jun 20, 2019

I believe in high heels.

I can still remember prancing around the living room of my childhood apartment in my mother’s white satin stiletto sling backs. They were a gift from my father and she wore them for special occasions. When my mother took an afternoon nap, I quietly removed the shoes from their box, slid them over my small feet and stepped out across the parquet floor. I felt great. I couldn’t wait to grow up and wear heels every single day.

This I Believe: I Believe In Bravery, Not Perfection

Jun 6, 2019

I believe in bravery, not perfection.

When I was growing up, I learned how to be brave at the lake in New Hampshire my family visited every summer. I would jump off swings, rocks and boats, soaking myself in the murky water. My siblings would watch in awe. I was the daredevil, the center of attention—and I loved it. At the lake, I possessed a kingdom of my own, and I determined that I would conquer the world.

This I Believe: I Believe In Storytelling

May 23, 2019

I believe in storytelling and bringing attention to those who live outside the limelight.

In the summer of 2017, I collaborated with my great-aunt and godmother, Marie-Edith Douillard, who has lived in Paris for 40 years and works for a human rights organization called Amnesty International. She introduced me to two refugees and helped me create a short documentary that has since been successful at various international film festivals.

This I Believe: I Believe In Board Games

May 9, 2019

 

I believe in board games.

As a kid, I started with the basics like chess, Othello and Monopoly. As I got a little older, games like Stratego, Risk and Mastermind were added to my collection.

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

Apr 25, 2019

This essay originally aired on April 26, 2018.

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

I believe in talking about important political issues in school.

School shapes children’s lives in a major way. School teaches children about the world around them, about how things work. So what better place to teach kids about politics than school?

This I Believe: I Believe In A Good Cup Of Coffee

Mar 29, 2019

This essay originally aired on Oct. 25, 2018.

I believe in a good cup of coffee.

I was about five years old when I brewed my first pot of coffee. I remember reaching for the red plastic container labeled Folgers, lifting the lid and appreciating its rich aroma.

I carefully counted the spoonfuls of Folgers, while my brother, who’s just a year older, measured the water. The counter the coffee pot sat on was barely reachable, but we made it work.

This I Believe: I Believe We All Have A Story

Mar 14, 2019
Essayist Molly Smith.
Molly Smith

I believe we all have a story.

I grew up in a small town about 30 miles outside of Harrisburg. When I say small town, I mean we only had one high school with about 60 kids in each graduating class. We had one red light, one Sheetz, one grocery store and a few banks.

This I Believe: I Believe In Traveling Alone

Feb 28, 2019
Essayist Shawna Mumma in Italy.
Shawna Mumma

I believe in traveling alone at least once in your life.

I’ll always remember how I felt the morning of December 27, 2014. There were butterflies of excitement in my stomach as I found a window seat near the back of the German train car. I settled in and double-checked that my written itinerary was still in my pocket. The train began to leave the station. Once the pure rush of adrenaline wore off, a feeling of complete shock hit me.

What in the world was I doing? 

Was I prepared to travel through Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and England on my own for two weeks?

This I Believe: I Believe In Myself

Jan 31, 2019
Essayist Alexis Fenstermacher.
Alexis Fenstermacher

I believe in myself.

When I was a sophomore in college, I realized I wanted to be a nurse in the military. I had just gotten back from a medical clinic in Honduras and felt inspired—I wanted to travel and help others while doing it. I knew nothing about the military, but when I Googled “traveling nursing jobs,” the first thing that came up was the Air Force.

This I Believe: I Believe In Lemonade

Jan 17, 2019

“Take one pint of water. Add a half-pound of sugar, the juice of 8 lemons and the zest of half of a lemon. Pour the water from one jug into the other several times. Strain through a clean napkin.”

I believe in the power of lemonade.

To most, the drink brings back childhood memories of hot summer days, family cookouts and catching a breeze outside.

But don’t get it twisted. The lemonade that has been quenching my thirst as a Black woman in the U.S. today is what’s being served up by the Queen herself, Mrs. Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter.

This I Believe: I Believe In Fat

Jan 3, 2019
Natalie Sullivan
Emily Reddy / WPSU

This essay originally aired on Feb. 2, 2017.  

I believe in fat. Not too long ago, I would have said, “I believe I’m fat.” But my mindset has shifted, because I’m in the midst of recovery. This is me speaking, not my eating disorder convincing me that my body is a worthless, loathsome shell.

This I Believe: I Believe In Sharing Food

Dec 20, 2018
Samantha Bastress
Emily Reddy / WPSU

This essay originally aired on Aug. 3, 2017.  

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 Music

Dec 6, 2018
Essayist Audrey Shu.
Audrey Shu

 

I believe in music. Sweet melodies make me feel radiant and free.

I play the piano. As I’ve learned to play, my mom has been with me every step of the way. I remember her sitting next to 6-year-old me, sharing the same bench, the same music, as I progressed from playing single notes to mini-recitals.

My mom is a passionate classical music lover. Music takes both of us to another world.

In Mozart’s “Horn Sonata,” Mom and I are attending an extravagant royal ball.

This essay originally aired on Feb. 15, 2018.

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.

This I Believe: I Believe In Waking Up

Nov 8, 2018

There are many things that define my life: my love of swimming and theatre, my desire to be with my friends at all times, my inclination to stay up late to finish a good book. My late nights, paired with early-morning workout sessions, mean I drink a lot of coffee, because I believe in waking up.

This I Believe: I Believe In Teaching

Oct 11, 2018
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.

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.

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