by Melissa Tackett

When I was in high school, I enjoyed reading, watching shows, and learning all that I could about different cultures.  Would it have been beneficial to have only read about them and not take it beyond the books? Not at all! My high school had many foreign exchange students.  These were students who came to America for one year to learn about the U.S.A. and our culture. I remember walking the hallways and hearing different languages being spoken around me.  I was very curious about what was going on! So I decided to get out of my comfort zone and try to become friends with many of them. I spent the last 2 years of high school being friends with people from Japan and Guatemala.  During that time, I learned about their traditions and they learned about mine. These experiences taught me many things, but who I became during those years was more valuable. I became more patient when I was trying to understand what they were saying with their heavy accents. I became less serious about the stressors of life and was able to enjoy the small moments with more ease.  I became more caring for people who are completely different than me. I became a person who could find humor in the small things! “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals,” (Zig Ziglar).

What is it you want to take beyond the classroom to make yourself a better version?  Maybe you want to learn a new hobby. Maybe you want to do something that you have been too scared to try.  Maybe you want to change how you use your spare time. Many of you have been taught in school how to make goals in a specific format.  You may have completed a form to fill out these areas to help you have more success in your classes. Goals that follow this format: S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound).  Using this format is a great start in setting goals. Let’s take what you have learned and get outside of the classroom! Don’t leave it on that piece of paper. It requires action! Ask yourself why you want to add this goal to your life. “If you don’t know why your goals matter, how do you know why your efforts matter?” (Samantha Kris).  Find something that interests you and you’ll find more than just a new interest.