Alternative Winter Break Changing My Assumptions

By Year Round Programs
Kimia (2nd from r) gives the food a thumbs up
Kimia (2nd from r) gives the food a thumbs up

When I arrived to the PATH Homeless Shelter, I expected each resident to have a similar background. I assumed the residents wouldn’t have completed school, and from there on would have fallen on a dangerous road. However, after many conversations, I felt very guilty for my presumptions. I first met a man named Steve who spent most of his life traveling around the United States and Europe studying art and history. He was very knowledgable about current events, and has dreams to someday return to Europe as filmmaker. Later in the day, I met an older woman who grew up in Los Angeles with her two kids. Both of her kids attended private school, and are currently very successful. The fashionable woman has two doctor’s degrees as well, education is extremely important to her. She spoke in a wise manner-reflecting her enthusiasm for psychology and literature. After a near death attack, she arrived to the shelter due to her extreme PTSD.

Talking to those two residents allowed me to realize that life is a roller coaster-it has very high highs and very low lows. One day you can carelessly be traveling around the world, but the next you can be without money and  no one to rely on. Luckily, shelters exist to provide a temporary sanctuary until you get back on your feet. Next, I realized that I shouldn’t generalize anything before I’ve actually become aware of the situation. I will start observing and learning about a situation before creating a bias standard. Lastly, I felt very inspired by Steve and the other woman-despite how rough life has been for them for the last years, they continue to be very optimistic. In conclusion, PATH provides a temporary home for all sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds. I am very glad that I volunteered at PATH and had so many interesting conversations with the residents.

~ Kimia Azad – 9th Grade, Beverly Hills, CA

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