As a sixteen-year-old girl growing up with an immigrant family of three (my brother, father, and mother), I have learned that failure is part of success. My name is Emmanuella Abankwah and I was born in Columbus, Ohio but lived in New York for most of my life. I went to a public school in the Bronx around PreK-7th grade; the school there was rowdy, messy, and what I considered part of my family growing up.
Growing up in that school proved to be a challenge for me; I was a timid and shy not as loud and outspoken as my other classmates. I learned from my parents that hard work was key to success so I spent many hours studying to get good grades. When I was around twelve years old, my parents, Mary Minkah and Edward Abankwah had decided the school I was attending wasn’t challenging me academically so they applied to private schools for my education. I was beyond scared of attending a new school I had no clue about; “What were these people like I thought?”. For starters, the distance was further, so I took the train for the first time in my life.
When I was first introduced to the school, I had realized that the people there weren’t as outspoken as my former classmates. They were actually very good conversationalists and had me feel welcomed. The academics were just as rigorous as my parents had wished for; I was having some trouble with working on the homework assignments given to us. I received a C+ (my first one in fact) in a science course (Organic Chemistry); I just didn’t seem to understand the concept of this course.
I complained to my parents that the courses there was just too difficult to handle and my dad had told me that every time you fail you get up and try again. I took his advice and slowly a C+ had turned to a B then to a B+ and had gradually turned to an A-. Over time, I have grown to love Chemistry and the teacher who taught that subject to me over four years. During this period of time in my life, I was coming out of my shy shell and had found some common new interests. I am especially interested in social issues, politics, and math (particularly algebra and geometry). Joining the volleyball team had proved to be a success; I was taught the lesson of friendship and team membership skills. Some of my closest friends are participants of the volleyball team in my school.
Around the beginning of 9th grade, I had joined the soccer team. Steiner was a small school, so I was on a team made up of mostly boys. There were only two girls on the soccer team including me. At first, I wasn’t particularly fond of soccer, however, my younger brother, Elijah got me interested in soccer.
The coach we had was happy that there were girls in the team and had reminded us that we still worked as hard as the boys. During soccer season, I was able to stop some of our opponents from shooting goals. We had ended our soccer season with only one loss and the ISAL championship trophy.
After soccer season ended, I had participated in a political social issue club called SIDER ( ). We met upstairs on the 2nd floor (library) every Wednesday at 3-4pm after school. SIDER is one of the best clubs I still participate until this day. Our club has allowed teenagers between the ages of 14-18 to talk about the political and social issues that the media has included. In this club, we have brought in people from Standing Rock, a Muslim woman talking about the issue of Islam, and a priest (Reverend Broker) to talk on the issue of MLK day.
SIDER had made me a lot more open-minded on issues that I surmised that I knew about. I am grateful to be joining a club where even talking to people who have different opinions than we can be understood and respected for having these opinions.