From a young age, all students are told to succeed. We drown ourselves in work, chores, and activities to become the top of our classes. So much pride and joy comes from being scored highest, from being valedictorian. We understand that our success in the future largely depends on our academic achievements now. Though this might be true for some of us, I believe that life is all about perspective.

When my father was growing up, his country was going through a revolution. His life was very different than mine, as he was raised in a country where food shortages and government rations were not uncommon. One of the biggest ways our lives differ, though, is in our school careers. Though my father received an excellent education and attended bilingual school, just as I do now, it was in his Junior year where his academic career changed completely. Being a Junior, myself, I feel that this is one of the reasons why his story has such an impact on me. When my dad was graduating his Junior year and entering his last year of highschool the government declared that every young man was legally required to enlist in the army once he graduated high school. My grandfather was very much against the idea of his son having to go to the war, and because of this, he asked my dad to fail his senior year. That way, my grandpa would have time to find a trustworthy person to smuggle my father across the border. My dad says that for the entire year, he would skip class every Tuesday to ski in the mountains and that my grandfather wrote him a sick note every time. I know that this made my grandfather feel safe, because with every note, he was moving my father farther and farther from a battlefield. My dad ended up failing 5 out of 14 subjects, and during his summer vacation, he became eligible to apply for a passport and was flown out to Germany.

Life is a matter of perspective. While I try as hard as I can in school to secure my future, my father had to fail at my age to secure his. As students, we often get stuck on the idea that if we all follow the same path and do the same things, our lives will be complete. When somebody strays from this path, we automatically assume that they are jeopardizing their futures or don’t care where they’re going. We don’t realize that people’s situations might force them to do certain things. We’ll never know why people act the way they do until we’re in the same situations. We just don’t. After all, I know I wouldn’t know what to do if I had been in my dad’s shoes.