Colibri Lopez: First Place 2016 Anne MacKay Scholarship Winner
“Out of the Ordinary”
By Colibri Lopez
Shelter Island High School
I can hear kids around me playing, the sound of wooden blocks tumbling. Natalia tells the teacher, “It’s my turn! She won’t give it to me!” While the other girl, Jenny, responds, “But Mrs. Stelgish, I had it first!” I sit at my desk, keeping to myself with my head down to my paper, and try to draw while our teachers wander around the room. It’s free time and my small hands feel clammy as a I hold the markers. With an utter feeling of loneliness and an unsettling in the pit of my stomach, I glance around the room and see nothing but pale faces and then look back down to my hands. They aren’t pale. Earlier I tried to approached some classmates of mine because I wanted to play, but as I started to walk towards them I heard one of them say, “She can’t play with us, she looks funny.”
At first I didn’t understand. I was confused about what just happened, so I turned around and walked away. Which takes me back to where we started. A six-year-old sitting at a desk by herself with markers in her hand trying to draw, at the same time questioning why my own classmate would say something like that to another student about me. That’s the first time I recall clearly when someone made me feel different and out of place because of the way I looked. That was only the beginning of eight difficult years of my life. But that was back in kindergarten. I’m not the same six-year-old anymore.
I grew up in a K-12 school with essentially no diversity and only 240 students in the entire school. Being the only Hispanic person in the school for eight years was difficult. The truth is no matter how young or innocent we may be, we still treat others differently if they seem out of the ordinary. Maybe it was never intentional for my class mates to hurt me. Perhaps they never really understood what they were doing to me. Throughout the first eight years of my school life, I faced many issues and had to push through some emotional times. I was teased and bullied. My classmates would make racist remarks and when they’d group together to do something, I was never invited to join. I craved to feel like I belonged, to be part of my class. I craved the acceptance of my peers. But overall, I still had to focus on school and work hard to make my parents proud, even though I dreaded going to school everyday.
As I got older the teasing and harassing got worse, but it wasn’t until I reached middle school that it really took an emotional toll on me. And that’s when I fell into depression. At first it wasn’t very serious, but the more I bought the words of others, the more I fell into myself, deeper into negativity. Soon enough I started to self-harm and those bad thoughts came crawling in. Things got better though. I sought help with the support of family and my best friend, and I learned to cope with my depression.
Out of bad things, something good will always come out at the end. And now I embrace my differences and strive to become a doctor one day, for anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I always enjoyed helping people and always put everyone else’s needs before mine, which leads me into my interest into the medical field. I’ve come a long way since elementary and middle school. I’ve accomplished so much while keeping my grades up and striving to be my best. Now my school is starting to become more diverse, and I don’t let the negativity bother me anymore. That was only a chapter in my life. Now a seventeen-year-old, I am proud of who I am and embrace the future that lies ahead of me. Which brings me to the next chapter of my life. Starting my schooling in a whole new environment, in a new diverse community I’ve never been exposed to growing up. This is why I look forward to college so I can be in a different and diverse environment. Going to college also helps me spread the idea of more diversity and so I can shows others the means of it. I plan to join clubs and groups to become a role model to others, a leader and show them that it’s okay to be from a different race, that we are all human and the same.