I often wondered why I came to America in the first place. I would ask my mother this question and she would say more opportunities and a greater future. I understood this superficially, but it was not until I traveled back to my home country Kenya and witnessed the differences between a first and third-world country.
What stood out to me was seeing the struggles many endured. I blinked once and saw women exhibiting symptoms of sickness but could not receive proper medical attention. The only medical center available was miles away by foot and above their living means. I tried to blink once more because I could not mentally process what I was seeing. I then remembered the stories heard about my Kenyan grandmother: an illiterate widow who raised eleven children. I could not help but weep while running across the street with my mom to catch the next bus, the main way to get around the country. On the bus, the thoughts in my head muted the ear-piercing jamming music playing: Why couldn’t someone help grandmother know how to hold a pen? What if my grandmother had the opportunity to come home every day with a notebook and a pen rather than the day’s worth of crops?
When coming back to America, I told myself I would use my life for service not for consumption. I became interested in hearing stories of those without education. This led me to Malala. I heard her say, ¨One child, one teacher, one pen, and a book can help change the world.” I became fascinated by the stationery I use every day at school—a pen and a notebook. Not only this, I used it in stages of my life. As a preschooler, I used my pen and notebook to try to draw myself eating spinach like Popeye. In Kindergarten, I used my pen and notebook to practice my letters. In middle school, I used my pen and notebook as a diary for my thoughts and feelings. In the summer of 2021, I used my pen and notebook to document scientific research. In my college years, I will use my pen and notebook to detail professors´ extensive lectures. In medical school, I will use my pen and notebook to record the science behind health and wellness. In my career years as a physician, I will use my pen and notebook to write down the symptoms of my patients and collaborate with them for effective treatment plans. In my elderly years, I will use my pen and notebook to draft my family legacy for my future generations.
What I find odd about my pen and notebook is the flexibility in how I grip my pen. In times of tranquility, I hold my pen with ease, producing a breeze-like sound between the ball of my pen and the pages in my notebook. In times of pressure, I hold my pen with a firm grip, causing a thunder-like sound as the ball of my pen scratches the pages in my notebook. It is these positions that allow me to understand my current mindset.
It is as if the durability of the ink in the pen and the next available page in my notebook encourages me to keep moving forward. This is a calling to reach my maximum potential. The ink of my pen is not erasable, it reminds me mistakes are bound to happen. Making mistakes and learning from them defines me.