Last summer I went to Colorado to partake in a grueling summer seminar at US Air Force Academy, elevation 7250 feet. The airplane ride gave me breathtaking view of the colorful Colorado mountains, still capped with snow in June. The seminar was half academic and half athletic.
For the first six hours of the day, I attended classes. Then, afterwards, my element would march over to play intramurals or run. Physical activity proved a challenge, my lungs struggling to draw oxygen from the thin mountain air.
Furthermore, my skin was so chapped from the dry atmosphere that my lips would bleed and when I scratched my legs, flakes of skin would fly off like snow. The last day of camp was a mock basic training hell. After hours of enduring in-your-face yelling and surviving strenuous activity, I was dragging myself across the ground on my belly, grass stinging my mouth and eyes. I’ll never forget the boy sprawled behind me; he was pushing me forwards, helping me though it doubled his work.
‘You can do it!’ The esprit de corps of humans, though we were animals. At the last moment, our cadre shouted a victorious command: ‘Take the hill!’ All five hundred of us raced atop the mound with a rebel yell. First indistinct, then deafening as voices were added, a cry of ‘twenty-twelve!’ echoed gloriously across the Colorado mountains.
We had succeeded. I felt a triumphant pride swelling in me for that camaraderie formed in our sweat, sealing us to something bigger than any one of us alone. Class of 2012, destined for greatness.
I am determined to hold true to the unspoken promise made that day, but I can only be one half of it, as the Academy taught me. The success of the individual is not so important as the success of the team. College is going to be the other factor to my equation, and when I graduate, I plan to give back to society through my work.The experience was an enlightening one, and it has endlessly played in mind as I recall with a smile the challenges I overcame.
With support and determination, anything is possible. Now I look forward to the future with great aspirations, knowing what I can do.
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