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At RA, we begin each week with an all school assembly. It is tradition for every Grade 8 student to take a turn running the assembly and speak about something that is meaningful to them. Each week, their speeches will be posted for our community to read. These outstanding young people are the leaders of our school and have experiences and stories that are important to share. Last Monday, Wylie D. spoke about the importance of taking risks and participating in things outside your comfort zone. Enjoy Wylie's story.

Throughout my life, I was always taught that good experiences lie outside of your comfort zone. Despite understanding the saying’s meaning; I had yet to have an experience where this was demonstrated. That is, until I signed up for the YSOP trip in the 7th grade. YSOP is a service learning trip for the 7th and 8th graders that is based in New York City and when I signed up, I was very excited to go and not only help people in need, but to have a fun time with my friends and teachers. However, when the chaperones kept us after morning meeting to talk about how we would be preparing dinner for people that were strangers and that we would be breaking up into groups to go to different parts of the city, my ideas for what YSOP would be quickly changed. I started to feel nervous and unsure about going on the trip after finding out about what we would do, since I had no idea about what to expect. And so, when the day came for us to leave for New York, I was extremely nervous.

After we arrived at the Friends Seminary School where we would be staying and working, we started to cook dinner for guests that would be coming from a local homeless shelter. I started to feel better about the trip while I was cooking garlic bread with my friends, but when I was told the guests were starting to arrive, I got nervous again. However, when I sat down at the table and started talking with them, I felt less apprehensive. And I started to discover that we had some things in common and that the guests had interesting stories to tell. For example, one of the guests that sat at my table had an interest in the arts, like I do. She also told us that she used to live in Connecticut and loved it, but later moved to New York because she loved the city lifestyle. And after the dinner party ended, I didn’t feel nervous about the trip anymore. It also made me realize that my nerves and anxiety were for nothing, which made me more excited for the remaining parts of the trip. YSOP kept on getting better as the two days progressed and I had an amazing time and I’m so glad that I decided to go despite being unsure because it taught me an important lesson; that stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking or negative experience, since it can easily be turned into a positive one. So, I encourage all of you to step outside of your comfort zone, like I did with YSOP; try something new, take a risk, make a new friend or anything else that could possibly help you grow. Because when you do, you not only get to help yourself grow, but you can help others around you and make a difference at the same time.

Written by Wylie D.