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Why education matters

A+willingness+to+learn+and+educate+ourselves+is+the+first+step+towards+a+better+society.+Graphic+by+Maya+Fu
A willingness to learn and educate ourselves is the first step towards a better society. Graphic by Maya Fu

Education is the greatest gift. It took many, many years for me to fully realize the truth of this phrase, plastered around my classrooms even to this day. 

It started with my piano teacher, a somewhat eccentric lady with razor sharp wit and no qualms against only speaking the brutal truth. 

“Your generation thinks they know everything about the world,” she said once. “You really don’t.” 

I knew she hadn’t been a particularly good student in high school, based on the stories she would tell me. Yet, she was still more educated about the government, politics, and world events than every other person I knew. Her kitchen table was always littered with the latest New York Times issues, and she often refused to start our weekly lessons until whatever radio show she’d been listening to finished. Those Sunday mornings – amidst the normal whirlwind of homework, AP classes, and the overall pressure to succeed – offered me a glimpse of the bigger picture: not everyone in the world is given the opportunities that we are, here in this safe bubble of a town we call home. 

It was mostly because of her that I started my podcast, This Person I Met. Through my interviews, I met people from backgrounds that I’d never really even considered before, and realized just how ignorant I had been. And how ignorant I still am. 

Outside of my podcast, I try my best to listen/watch other podcasts that involve interviews with underrepresented individuals in our society. One of my recent favorites is Soft White Underbelly on YouTube – a channel by photographer Mark Laita that “interviews and portraits the human condition,” according to his “About” section. The channel offers real, raw stories of people living out the situations that we’re cautioned against as children. But it also shows why; there are reasons behind everything. 

Why can’t these people just get a “normal” job? Many times, because of drug abuse. 

Why are so many of them addicted to drugs? Because drugs offer an escape from their life, and from their own mind. 

Why do so many of them suffer from mental health problems, how did they even find themselves in these positions? Most often, severe childhood trauma and a lack of love. 

In one video, Mark Laita stated simply that this lack of love is the main culprit. 

Besides these heart wrenching and eye-opening first hand accounts, though, are stories of the most amazing people who devote their lives to trying to help. I recently watched Laita’s interview with forensic nurse examiner Shawn, and found myself moved to tears countless times. 

If I’m being honest with myself, many times in the past, I’d quicken my pace to hurry by a homeless person on the street. But the point is that there’s always so much more to learn, and so many ways to better yourself. Despite my podcast, channels such as Laita’s, and the amazing educational opportunities that my family is able to provide me, I know that I still have harmful prejudices and preconceptions hardwired into my brain, and I know I’m not alone in that. But a willingness to learn and educate ourselves is the first step towards a better society. 

 

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About the Contributor
Maya Fu, Website Editor-in-Chief
Maya is currently in 11th grade, and this is her third year on the Emery's staff. Maya is on the varsity tennis team, does ballet, plays cello, and hosts a podcast called This Person I Met on Spotify. In her free time, she likes reading and writing. Maya's favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice (the 2005 version) and her favorite flavor of ice cream is cookie dough.
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