Estiven Taborda

A couple of summers ago, after my flight from Madrid to LA was canceled, the airline told me that it would take two weeks to get me back to LA. They also told me that they oversold my flight, and apparently, had oversold the next ones too. Now, I don’t know about you guys but I sure as heck didn’t know what I was going to do for the next two weeks. I mean, my AP Lit classes were starting, I had to see my friends . . . my girlfriend. I had to see my 17-year-old dog, hopefully…
In the meantime, I decided to go where every teenager would go in this situation: my phone. I began to scroll through Instagram, Snapchat, . . . played some games. And then I went on Twitter. As I was scrolling through my feed, I came across this article about the Syrian Civil War. Yes, there are some teenagers who still read about the news. Five paragraphs into the article, I found myself face to face with a refugee who was escaping death because of a war that has destroyed his finances, his family, and more importantly, his life. The traces of traces of both mud and blood on his face reflected the long, brutal duration of the civil war. He appeared hungry as if he hadn’t eaten for days. His half-frown demonstrated that he was hungry for something else too: for the war to end.
And through all of the pain and misfortune he had gone through, he still hung on to his hopes and dreams. Dreams that one day he would see his wife again. That he would see his children again. That he would find some level of peace again.
I didn’t realize the significance of me reading about him at the time.  But after reading the article, I started to think, wow, here I am, safe and sound, at my home, living a normal life, struggling to decide between the Kung Pao chicken in Panda Express or the quarter pounder meal at McDonald's. And, all the while, people in the world are are still wondering if they’re going to live another day. If they’re going to wake up and see the next day. There are some who still wonder where their parents are. Where their wife or husband is. Where their children are.
The reason I’m telling you this story is because we often take even the simplest things for granted. We live our lives happy and safe, unaware of the struggles that go on around us. We take for granted things like food, shelter, bagels, water, and friends. Those things we take for granted, someone else is praying for.
A couple of weeks later, when I finally got back to LA, I remembered a few of the phrases from the refugee in the newspaper article. It was something about what his dreams were. I thought about it and, inspired, it made me wonder what my dreams were.

So, here we go.

I dream that the class of 2018 takes a leadership role in the world, and is inspired to strive to be the best versions of themselves so they can take the world to a brighter place. On a lighter note, I dream of a world where fidget spinners never existed. Back to being serious, I dream of a world where those who have not been as fortunate as us have a fair chance at life.
Now let me do the thing where I need to use a quote:
When asked if my cup is half-full or half empty, my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.
On that note, I would like to thank all faculty, alumni, friends, family, and the rest of the RHP and Renaissance community for helping to give me and this school the privilege to live a full life and to fly through the turbulence because we are Huskies.
Be phenomenal or be forgotten!
Thank you.
(See video for complete shoutouts)
Last but not least, DAD
I know you and I don’t see eye to eye all the time, but I can’t thank you enough for all the time you invested in raising me. Thank you for all the many, many happy memories and I hope I made you proud these past years. You are the definition of a great dad and no one compares to you. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you and I love you.

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Rolling Hills Preparatory School

One Rolling Hills Prep Way
1500 Palos Verdes Drive North
San Pedro, CA 90732

T: (310) 791-1101 | F: (323) 310-9973 
Rolling Hills Prep School prides itself on being a forward-looking, academically rigorous college-prep school with a soul. Every day we provide our diverse student body a high-powered traditional curriculum combined with stimulating and innovative teaching techniques both inside and outside the classroom because we believe that success in college and life is best attained by equipping our students with disciplined minds, sound character, healthy bodies and creative spirits. RHP is a private, coeducational day school for grades 6-12, located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles, CA.

Renaissance, our sister school, believes that bright students who learn differently can rise to great heights when they become empowered and confident. Visit the Renaissance website.