Ray Bradbury once wrote, “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” Though the book this quote is found in, Fahrenheit 451, is a work of fiction, we, as students, are still discovering the power of education today, half a century later. Time and time again, history has asked this question about knowledge. Why did Qin Shi Huangdi, a ruthless emperor who was unafraid of anything, destroy hundreds of books and scholars in China? How was Hitler able to convince millions of Germans to join his cause with mere words? Why is knowledge so crucial in the pursuit to change the world?
I have been reading since I was 4 years-old, graduating from comic books to The Magic Tree House to Percy Jackson and other young adult novels. To me, turning the first page of a book is like falling down a rabbit hole; I am immersed in a world of fantasy and mystery that escapes from the black ink. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a book must be worth a thousand pictures, because my imagination has never been stronger than when I am reading.
I visit the library every other week, coming home with an armful of books that rest beside my bookshelf of purchased ones. Knowledge is power, and you can find this tenet everywhere: in history, in politics, even in today’s world. Think, for a second, of all the problems we can solve if we would just reach for the pen before we grab the gun. If we can alleviate the violence that runs rampant in today’s society, we can prevent wars that start over trivial disagreements, saving millions of lives in the process. We can also use the power of writing in positive ways; as students, we can write letters to authoritative figures to request a change, and a piece of writing can even change our own lives. As a historical example, when he was only 17, Alexander Hamilton wrote a maudlin account of the hurricane that wrecked his island home, and when it was read by town leaders who recognized his writing prowess, they funded his education and sent him to the United States. Hamilton went on to become a renowned Founding Father whose legacy spans centuries. He is my role model because his dedication and effort encourages me to persevere so that I, too, can change the world.
However, my dream to improve society would be impossible without education, and for that I am forever thankful to Haynes Academy of Advanced Studies. It offers a myriad of clubs, sports, and academics that appeal to people of all interests. One of my favorite aspects of Haynes is its emphasis on art, music, and theatre. Having been in all three at one point, I can appreciate the fact that Haynes treats the arts as just as essential as academics, allowing half a school year for a Talent class of choice. As for me, I love art, and I believe that both our art program and teacher are resourceful, beneficial, and fun. After reading, my second favorite hobby is drawing since I enjoy creating something beautiful out of simple pencil and paper. Art comes in many forms, such as sketching, architecture, piano, and theatre, and each gives us a unique perspective that holds its own kind of power. Without it, the world would lose its color and vibrancy that are trademarks of human nature. Using art, we can empower the future, because art does not just give us information; it appeals to how we feel, which can bring people together to solve problems. There is a reason why names such as Mozart, Mona Lisa, and the opera Carmen are just as or more famous as Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity. A piece of music can pull at the heart or bring solace to a tired doctor coming home from work. A powerful photograph can bring millions to support a single cause. Art and humanities are just as important as math and science because the former provides the foundation that the latter develops on, and one cannot exist without the other.
I am given many opportunities in life to improve myself and expand my interests, but there are many teenagers in the world who must drop out of school to support their families. My parents were both born in a time when China was extremely poor, and they could afford to eat eggs and meat only on holidays and received new clothes once a year. Nevertheless, they did not give up under hardship and both went to college, with my dad getting a doctor’s degree and my mom getting a master’s degree; they took jobs in America as a scientist and an engineer. I am ineffably grateful to be born in a country where I always know where my next meal is coming from, and I can buy books whenever I want. Therefore, I want to make the best out of my education and make my family proud by working hard better society through the power of words and art. I am still undecided on which career path to follow in the future, but I have a broad range of interests: from law to design to literature. I would like to go to Stanford University, and I am working hard to enter by getting good grades and participating in extracurriculars. By going to Stanford, I can contribute world-changing innovations that are vital to our world, our health and our country. Maybe I can combat world hunger by starting an organization to collect donations for third-world countries. Maybe I can find a cure to cancer by conducting extensive medical research. The future is still unclear, but only one point is definite: as long as I give it my all and persevere through hardship, I will be able to make a difference in society.
So, what is the secret in books that someone would die for? The truth is, it is not about the novels but the knowledge found within the pages. It is about the words that can change society, the art that can touch a person’s heart, and the information that can save millions of lives. It is about the power of education that we are lucky enough to receive, when children around the world wither away in poverty. Most importantly, it is about what we will do with our education: how we will use it to improve society and better the lives of those beneath us. Though I will face defeat and will want to give up at times, if we join together, work hard, and reach for the stars, I believe that I can change the world.