Optomism speech

lexiamedio's version from 2018-02-15 02:10


Amesiganyi. A word I learned the true meaning of 7 years ago when I traveled to Ethiopia for the first time. Amesiyganyi means grateful in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. My roots of optimism stem from discovering how complex gratitude actually is and how it is as unique as the individual themselves.
On the first day of our trip to Ethiopia we went to visit the lelt foundation. An amazing organization that gives schooling, tutoring, and meals to young children in poverty and gives their parents job training so that they will be able to support their families. For many years my mom has worked with this foundation and become closer with the founders and some of the kids at Lelt. The Lelt foundation got its name from a little girl named Lelt. A beautiful little girl who had done absolutely nothing to deserve what happened to her. She was taken in the middle of the night by child traffickers. They drilled a hole in the wall of the orphanage she was sleeping in. She hasn’t been seen since.
As we arrived at Lelt that day we were greeted by probably the most genuine, kind, compassionate people I have ever met. There were about 20 children in the yard all gathered together talking in a language completely foreign to me. The woman who runs the foundation walked up to us and embraced all of us in a hug. This instantly helped my confidence and I began to approached the kids. I saw their feet bare and their faces plastered with ear to ear smiles. I remember all of the kids looking up at us hesitantly when suddenly this little girl in an oversized ripped t shirt and crocs named Sifan broke through the crowd and jumped in my arms. At first I was shocked but then I realized how this little girl who had been through things we can’t even imagine blindly did an act of kindness not knowing how I would react.


These kids have experienced real trauma. They have seen their friends kidnapped in the middle of the night, they have wondered if they would ever get another meal, they have felt real pain. Yet I continue to hear stories where people make it seem like these children’s optimism is effortless. They make it seem like magic. Like the children don't have to work at all in order to be grateful. That is the farthest thing from the truth. Don't get me wrong, I used to think this too. I met the children, spent a couple days with them and just assumed optimism came to them naturally. I oversimplified it. My roots of optimism were shallow. But the last 6 years of my life have taught me how incredibly wrong my assumptions were. Instead of coming home after this trip with some valuable life lessons, and a newfound appreciation for life I came home with a little brother. January 21st 2011. One of the days that changed my life forever. This was the day we brought my 3 year old brother home from Ethiopia. I had no idea what to expect. A single question racing through my seven year old head. Will he feel loved and accepted in our family? My question would soon be answered. My brother joined our family with a smile on his face, a chunky belly and a heart full of love. Just two years later on April 2nd 2013 we brought my three year old little sister home also from Ethiopia. This day turned my life completely upside down. By this time I was 9 and had experienced 2 years worth of behind the scenes of adoption. The complex reality. The reality no one tells you. The reality no one told me.
I didn't realize how different circumstances and trauma can affect gratitude. I learned this mainly from my little sister. She has definitely had a harder time adjusting. She was 2 when her birth mother gave her to the orphanage. That was 2 years worth of bonding to her birth mom just to be taken away from everything she knew. Because of this she thinks with the part of her brain that controls your body's fight or flight response to trauma. She can’t help it. She makes decisions based on her instinct, and her primal need to survive. A study by greater good magazine at UC Berkeley says that “Gratitude can help us heal from the the traumas of our lives, both small and large.” When we first got her she struggled to emotionally attach to my mom. She didn’t know what was happening. We didn’t speak her language. We were weird strangers taking her away from the only home she ever knew. Over the last 4 years her personality has blossomed and she is now the funniest person I have ever met. She overcame her struggles. She stayed optimistic. She stayed grateful. My siblings still have hard days. Days where they tell me they hate me. Days where they scream at me and tell me that I’m not their real sister. Days where other things or people in my life hurt me and I come home and have to make sure I keep my siblings happy. I have seen first hand how hard it is for them to actually remain grateful. But all of these impossible days make everything we’ve gone through so worth it. Throughout the whole adoption process and days where I felt like being grateful was impossible. I took into account what I had learned from my siblings, and the children from the Lelt foundation. So, if you take one thing from this speech I hope it is to always no matter what you are going through remain amisyganyi.