I Believe in Store Brand Candy, by Michaela Eichers

I believe in store brand candy. It can be found anywhere, and shared with anyone. It can be the catalyst to a conversation with someone you would have never anticipated.

I remember hearing the crunch of the dry mud crackle underneath my boots as I sauntered through the tall grasses in Botswana. My all khaki ensemble blended in with my surroundings, but disagreed with every fashion instinct I had in my body, as I chewed on the same piece of candy for ten minutes. Our tour guide explained how my family and I would be meeting the indigenous people that called the safari their home; the blood in my veins turned red hot with fear. How would I interact with them? We do not speak the same language and knowing myself I would do something on accident that would offend them.

As soon as we went through the wooden fence, the people stared at us. The elders had seen Caucasian people before, but for most of the children, this was the first time. Filled with trepidation, I approached a young girl and kneeled down so I was eye level with her dark, round eyes. As she stared into my eyes, I could tell she was confused and even a little appalled. She had never seen a seventeen year old white girl with embarrassingly pale skin and blue eyes. I smiled at her and reached into my pocket and pulled out a small piece of cherry flavored candy. I stuck out my hand with my peace offering but her eyes stayed locked on mine. Panicked, I grabbed a second piece, unwrapped the delicate red plastic and ate it. Her eyes widened with excitement. I sat down on the dry dirt and opened my backpack revealing a ziplock bag filled with candy, and before I could catch my breath, ten more children found their way to my lap, wondering when it would be their turn to have a piece.

As the day progressed, the amount of candy I had dwindled. Every piece of candy I passed out was a ticket into the life of someone else. The children would tell me their names, and use hand gestures to try and act out important scenes from their lives. Even the Elders would tap on my shoulder, reach their hands out, and ask for a piece. Laughing to myself, I would agree, and without asking, they would invite me into their homes made of mud and straw and share their wisdom with me. Others would grab my hand and begin to dance, and some would roll what was supposed to be a soccer ball at my feet and start hollering to initiate a game.

I believe in genuine laughter, memories, and unexpected friends. The bitter flavors and unpleasant chewiness were microscopic compared to the laughter of the children, the stories from the Elders, and raw happiness that will never leave my heart.

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Michaela is a student at Texas Christian University

I Believe in Happiness

Author: Anonymous, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I believe in happiness. I believe that there are so many different ways to be happy. Throughout my life so far there have been significant influences that have made me think this. The three biggest influences are the movie Happy, travel, and my experiences with my family.

I first saw Happy two years ago. This is a documentary focused on looking at people across the world and what makes them happy. As well as looking at how love comes more naturally to humans than war and hate. It was originally extra credit for one of my classes that I was taking at the time. This movie examines how love and compassion come more naturally to people than hate does. It looks at what people in different countries and cultures think make a person happy; as well as, looking at their overall happiness levels. Throughout this movie they look at cultures all around the world, while everyone has their own idea of what will make them happy. This had a significant impact on me because before seeing this movie I always though that violence was a more powerful driving force in the world. However, after Happy I started looking at the world and how I thought about things differently.

The next greatest influence for me was having the opportunity to travel and live in different areas of the world. It is quite evident in other cultures that, while they do not have the resources that we have, they appreciate what they have. The biggest difference that I see between Western culture and many Eastern cultures is that Western cultures puts a greater emphasis on things where as with many Eastern cultures they may live in shack with a few possession but feel like they are very rich because they have family and friends to spend time with. Likewise, it is interesting that in our culture we expect people to be happy all the time. For me seeing how other people in many different cultures have found happiness has helped me develop and learn what makes me happy.

Lastly, I have seen my sister find happiness depression. This is probably the greatest driving force that has shaped my view and understanding of happiness. My sister is younger but for the past few years I have gone through the battle of depression with her and watched her become healthy again and seen her make her own happiness even on her worst days.

These aspects have shaped how I view happiness and how I think about it. While I believe being happy and finding happiness is important I also realize that being happy all the time is impractical.  I believe that being happy is important because if someone cannot find things in their life that makes them happy and enjoy life then that makes life more difficult, as I have experienced with my sister. For me what is important is finding what makes you happy no matter what our resources or life circumstance is.

 

I believe in Tolerance and Understanding

Author: Corey Landers, TCU Student, Marketing Major, Published Fall 2012

My life was changed the day I first moved. I had been living in Louisiana for practically my entire life when my father told the family that he was being transferred overseas to Great Britain. We moved to a small village called Lea that was just two hours away from London, and I went to school surrounded by people who had funny accents and strange habits. We also went to a different church, an Anglican one I suppose, but honestly I could barely tell the difference then from the Methodist church we had attended in Louisiana.

Church was never a big part of my family’s life. We arbitrarily went from Methodism to Anglicanism simply because it was convenient (the Anglican Church was right down the street). And when we then moved to London itself, we stopped attending church for a year because we could barely find a school for my sister and I, let alone a place of worship. But none of this was a big deal because religion and spirituality never really entered my life in England.

It only became an issue when I moved to Texas. I started noticing how deeply people held their religious beliefs, and how open they were to talking about them. All through high school I was surrounded by people who would mention God or Jesus whenever they got the chance, and I always got offended by it. I just always believed that religion was a private matter, and definitely not something you just openly talked about in class. And when I got to college things just got worse. Now I was living with people of all different faiths and ideologies, and so naturally clashes occurred between the intolerant people.

I hate intolerance. Living in England taught me that people can be different from me, but still be great once you get to know them, and so when the intolerant people in my dorm would go about preaching their beliefs I just couldn’t believe it. Did they not realize how rude they were being? Did they not understand how offensive they were? After a few heated arguments, I realized that the people who are the most intolerant happen to be the most ignorant of other people’s beliefs. These people practically refuse to accept that their religion maybe isn’t the only correct belief out there, so they attack anything they don’t understand.

I believe in understanding. I believe in empathy. I believe in tolerance and freedom. But I also know that some do not. I know that some refuse to learn about “the heathens”, that some hate those that are different simply because they are different. And I know I can’t do anything to change that mindset. So instead I choose to take the higher path, to not hate them because of their hate, their ignorance. I believe in empathy, they believe in intolerance. But I hope that just as racism has slowly began to die away, so too will the last vestiges of all intolerance. I hope I am not wrong.

I Believe in Taking Risks

Author: Britt Luby, TCU Staff Member, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life

Published: November 6, 2012

I Believe in Taking Risks, by Britt Luby, TCU Staff Member, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life
Street food. One-way plane tickets. Rope swings. If you don’t do it now you’ll regret it for the rest of your life on repeat in my mind as I untie my shoes, roll up my jeans, and run to dip my toes in frigid ocean water. Mountain climbing, thesis-writing, cross-country moving, things that seem too big to undertake that somehow become smaller and smaller in size with every step. Slacklining, skinny dipping, snowshoeing, trying new things to make sure that I’m not missing out on the most important thing, that one experience that will bring more joy and pride and excitement than I could ever imagine.

I believe in taking risks. I believe that it’s okay to study abroad in Spain even if you’ve never taken a Spanish class because by the end of your journey you might just leave pieces of your heart swirling in cups of ruby-red sangria. I believe that it’s possible to convert an electric clothes dryer cord from four prongs to three with just a few words of encouragement from the man at the hardware store (and a quick phone call to dad) and that converting that power cord might just make you more proud of yourself than the day you graduated from college. I believe that when you drive down the coast of California, you should observe one rule: stop whenever and wherever you want. That way, you can stick your finger in hundreds of slippery sea anemones while starfish in every color watch. And even if you are late to your final destination, it’s good, it’s really good, because that sun setting over the Pacific is spectacular. I believe in staying up too late the night before a big exam because having a conversation with that boy, that sweet boy, seems more important that bivariate data analysis and maybe, just maybe, you’re going to marry that boy someday.

In a few short months, that sweet boy and I will join the Peace Corps, pack up our entire lives into four suitcases, and move to Morocco. This seems like one of my biggest risks yet, but it certainly won’t be the last. Not if I’m lucky. Because I believe that there are too many beautiful, wonderful things on this ever-spinning planet and that the only way to soak it all up, to feel the heartbeat of the earth pulsing in your veins, is to try as many of those things as you can every chance you get.

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IMG_5548 EditBritt Luby is an Associate Chaplain in the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at TCU.  A graduate of TCU and the Graduate Theological Union, she served as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco.