My dreams for my community

Emma Anand reads her winning essay from the 2023 “My Dreams for My Community” Youth Essay Contest at the Adirondack Center for Writing in August 2023. (Provided photo — Adirondack Center for Writing)

Perfection. To be perfect has one clear meaning: “To be free of faults and defects; as good as possible.” Nothing in this world is perfect, including my community of Bolton Landing.

My community is close-knit and we value each other and what we know we can do to help others. However, there are still a lot of flaws. These flaws and mistakes aren’t necessarily bad; in fact, these flaws are what give my community the amount of uniqueness that it has.

Throughout my life, I grew up in Warrensburg, a small town in upstate New York. As an Indian-American, I’ve faced a lot of bullying, and I’ve been isolated from others because of my culture and what my family has worked hard for. After starting to go to school in Bolton, I’ve realized that I don’t deserve to be treated like that and I should be proud of my culture and what my family has achieved. My small community helped me realize this.

In such a small community, it’s hard to really branch out and meet different people. For instance, my entire grade only has eight people including me, so I get to hang out with people I probably wouldn’t be around in a bigger school. But then I have to be with them every single day and I don’t get to meet new people in class like I would have the chance to in a bigger school. I currently go to Bolton Central School, but last year I went to Warrensburg Central School. The transition from being hidden in the shadows of 60 other people to the now vice president in a class of 8 is a very big transition, but I’m so much happier now.

In the biography by Laura Hillenbrand, “Unbroken,” the life of Olympic athlete, veteran and former prisoner of war Louis Zamperini, is put into immense detail. Throughout the book, Louis Zamperini faces tremendous challenges that really tested his strength and brought him down to his lowest points, However, he didn’t show hate. Nobody can disagree and argue that Louis Zamperini shouldn’t have hate in the first place; because he faced extreme physical and mental torture, isolation, PTSD, he spent time lost on the sea, was targeted by some of the higher-ups in the prison camps, and so much more. Louis Zamperini should have wanted to hate and get revenge, but he didn’t. When he left the Japanese prison camp, Zamperini wanted to meet up with one of the guards who repeatedly tortured him, letting him know that he forgave him for most of the things that were inflicted upon him. This shows how strong forgiveness can be against hate. Louis Zamperini continued the rest of his life with permanent effects from all of these incidents, but he chose to forgive.

You might be wondering how this relates to my community and it’s hard to relate such an amazing man to my community, but they have at least one thing in common. We value forgiveness. In my community, there’s a good amount of wrongdoing. When these wrongdoings occur, people are usually quick to forgive or apologize. People don’t enjoy holding grudges and in such a small community, we really need to unite and prioritize our feelings and each other.

My people, or the people that I associate myself with, aren’t people that are just like me. I like to associate with people who think differently or have different ideas because then it’ll be more interesting. I love having debates and my community offers that type of diversity. I believe that it’s better to be around people who are completely different than you than someone who is identically the same.

My community has its flaws and its strengths but we always prioritize forgiveness and try to stay connected while also valuing our differences and uniqueness.

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Emma Anand is a student at Bolton Landing Central School. Her essay won the 2023 “My Dreams for My Community” Youth Essay Contest sponsored by Adirondack Voters for Change and Adirondack Center for Writing.


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