College Scholarship Winner

A smile...it is the universal language of love, kindness, and sincerity.  Many times, we expect or hope to be able to achieve great things by taking giant leaps forward, but I believe that even with a simple smile, anything is possible.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit India, and in each city I visited, whether it was Kerala, Goa, or Delhi, I came across different experiences that immensely enhanced my view of what a smile truly meant to me and how extraordinary the power of a smile is when it comes to making a difference in the life of someone else.  When I was in Goa, for instance, I can vividly remember how there was a mother and her two young children who were eating what was less than a cup of rice off of the floor.  The rapid pace at which they ate reflected the fear and uncertainty of when they would be able to eat again.  For some time, no one acknowledged them and every individual that passed them ignored them or put forth a disgusted expression.  A few minutes later, a young woman, perhaps in her thirties, noticed the family and placed her hand on the mother’s shoulder.  Smiling, she sat down with them, and suddenly, I could see smiles appear on the faces of the family she sat down with.  I could clearly see that the fact that a woman acknowledged this poor family with a smile reflected a sense of compassion and genuine care.  After some time had passed, the young woman walked into a tea shop, purchased three large meals, and gave them to the small family of three. After exchanging a few kind words, she walked to the bus station that was across the street and left.  Though she was a complete stranger, she took her time to bring some joy to that family, and it all began with a simple, but meaningful smile.

To put this into a better perspective, think about this following question: What is one of the greatest gifts we as individuals can share with the world?  About a year ago, someone asked me this very question, and the answer finally came to me last Christmas, when I received a Play-doh set.  It was a multi-colored set that consisted of ten different tubs of Play-doh.  As my younger cousins were unwrapping their gift cards and their brand new outfits, I remember thinking to myself, “Maybe I opened the wrong present?”, so I looked at the label on the gift wrap to double check, but it was addressed to me. I sat for a few moments near our Christmas tree just looking at this Play-doh.  However, when I removed some of the additional packaging, a note fell from the Play-doh set.  I opened the note and it was a letter from my grandfather that was addressed to me.  It said, “This play-doh is symbolic of your ability to change not only your world, but the world of others.  How? Just like you can mold this Play-doh in any shape or form based on your own ideas and your actions, you can mold this world through your creativity, through your unique abilities, and most importantly, through the greatest gift a person can share with the world, a smile.”  He ended the note by writing, “Laughter begins with a smile.  Love begins with a smile.  Life begins with a smile.”  These are words that I will never forget and have hoped to live by each day.  Just as a child smiles with joy at the simplest of moments, such as playing with Play-doh, I hope to smile with joy during even the simplest of moments in life because with just a smile, the simplest moments can become the greatest of moments.  By sharing our smiles with the world, we set forth the foundation of being able to make a positive impact in our world, and it is with such a foundation that we create the opportunity to change the world.

Ultimately, we each have the ability to bring forth a sense of happiness and simple joy through our smiles to make a positive impact on ourselves and those around us.  The one thing we should never leave our houses without is our smiles because a smile not only reflects happiness, but also reflects hope and the opportunity to make someone’s day a little brighter.  Each and every individual carries the gift of a unique smile.  By bringing that gift to the world, we can, without a single word, make a difference.  Don’t leave the gift of smiling wrapped or hidden away, because just like a child is eager to open presents on Christmas morning, I believe that the world is eager to see our smiles change the world.

Past Scholarship Winners