I was around nine when my parents first took me back to Vietnam for the summer after moving to America. One of the first things they did after we landed, was take me to volunteer at a nearby orphanage for kids that were still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. Although I don’t remember much from that trip to Vietnam as it has been almost ten years since then, the horrifying and grotesque deformities that those children had to suffer through has left a lasting mark on me. From the smaller illnesses, such as cleft palates and eczema, to cerebral palsy and neural tube defects, which left their victims bedridden and deformed. It was during that time in Vietnam that I realized how lucky I was to be born without any defects or problems, and be able to live in America, where I have many more opportunities than I would’ve had, living in Vietnam. Being able to realize that at such a young age caused me to appreciate what I have much more, and always try to help others that are less fortunate than I am. I still return to Vietnam every couple of years or so to visit the kids at the orphanage and do what I can to help them. In a way, getting to visit Vietnam and experience the real side of the country helps to keep me rooted to my origins and where I came from. Today, I still hold onto those values of helping those who are less fortunate and try to apply them not just in Vietnam, but in America as well. I have worked in soup kitchens and volunteered at non-profit organizations, where I was personally able to help those in need first hand. Being able to talk to all these people and getting to know them made me realize that a lot of these people were just poor souls that had had something unfortunate happen to them in their lives. In a way, these people were like the orphans I had helped in Vietnam: both were put into bad situations as a result of some hapless event in their lives. I had always wanted to go into the medical field, so all these experiences only furthered my conviction to be a doctor. Becoming a doctor would allow me to help people on a much more personal level, along with being able to do more than I could before as a volunteer. I’m truly lucky that I even have the opportunity to pursue a high education at a prestigious college and possibly succeed in life, so I want to use that opportunity to work towards helping those that never even got that chance in the first place.
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