First off, we would like to thank all of the candidates who submitted applications for our second Cabarrus County award. The board members enjoyed reading all of your essays, hearing your stories, and getting glimpses into your lives. The submissions we received were from a diverse group of young men and women who have already overcome difficult obstacles and have an amazing and breathtaking array of goals that we hope they all accomplish someday.
With that being said, we are honored to announce Gabriella Mullis as the recipient of the Fall 2022 Cabarrus County scholarship. Gabriella is a senior at Northwest Cabarrus High School and is headed to Embry Riddle where she wants to major in Homeland Security and Global Conflict Studies. She has already accomplished a lot by sharing her story with "The Tommy Project", which she started to help support families with substance abuse issues. The Gina Guthrie Scholarship Fund was proud to award her $2,500 to help her as she advances through Embry Riddle and we wish her the best in all of her endeavors. Please take some time to read her essay below so you can get to know a little bit more about her and her aspirations.
To determine the recipient of the award, we are held an essay contest that consisted of three parts. First, the applicant had to show financial need. Second, we wanted them to write about something in life that they had to overcome. And third, we wanted to know what their goals are: what they want to do and who they wish to become.
You can also get to know our previous three Kappa Delta scholarship winners Elizabeth Biro, Ansley Jones and Johanna Chiang and our first ever Cabarrus County winner, Blake Anderson. Their application essays are attached below, so please read them and learn their stories as well.
GABRIELLA MULLIS - GGSF SPRING 2022 RECIPIENT
(Essay Topics: Financial Need / Biggest Challenge / Life Goals)
My name is Gabriella Mullis. I am a senior at Northwest Cabarrus High School in Concord, North Carolina. At Northwest, I play volleyball, and am a member of BETA Club and the National Technical Honor Society. Away from Northwest, I am a Girl Scout, volunteer at my church and Esther's Heart for Transformation Ministry, play club volleyball and work part time. I have earned the Girl Scout bronze and silver awards and have finished working on my gold award. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends outdoors hiking, fishing, watching The Sound of Music and Dirty Dancing over and over, binge watching NCIS, Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy, and listening to hours of Murder & Mystery: Analysis by Dr. Phil anytime we are in the car for at least an hour. I wish I could have met Mrs. Guthrie and tasted her amazing food. Like Mrs. Guthrie, I hope to travel the world and achieve the type of life she was able to enjoy.
I have spent four years growing and learning at Northwest Cabarrus High School for such a time as this. College is expensive. My mom is a single parent. My parents separated for the second time in July 2011 when I was 7 years old. She has done her best to make life as normal as possible. She received very little to no help from my dad even though there was a child support court order in place. She reminds me that every little bit helps and that things always work out as they should. Dad owed about $60,000 in back child support at the time of his death in April 2020. As a college bound student, I am aware of the importance of scholarships. I am excited about the possibility that the Gina Guthrie Scholarship Fund may invest in my future and look forward to calling Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida home for at least the next four years!
The days and weeks after my dad's passing in April 2020 were a blur. His loss has left a hole in my heart that can never be filled. There are tears. There is sadness. There are many unanswered questions. I learned a lot more than I thought I knew about my dad's alcohol abuse after he died. I remember some situations from my childhood. I also learned that my dad's denial about his alcohol abuse led to my parents' separation. I still have questions that may never be answered. I was struggling. I could not believe my dad was gone. I was angry. Why did this happen to my dad? I knew I needed to do something. I decided to make lemonade from the lemons that life had given me. My search for answers to these questions and my curiosity about alcohol abuse led to The Tommy Project, my Girl Scout Gold Award in honor of my dad Tommy. I wanted to know more about alcohol abuse, raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol abuse and its impact on families. And I knew that I wanted to share my story with others to let them know that they are not alone and to inspire them to seek the much-needed help for their loved one.
Many people helped me along the way to ultimately connect with Rachel Berg, Student Assistance Program Specialist with Cabarrus County Schools to make The Tommy Project, my personal story about my dad’s battle with alcoholism a part of the Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco units in middle schools. Health teachers have the option to opt into sharing with their students. The Tommy Project is available on the Student Services Substance Abuse Prevention Resources section on the Cabarrus County Schools website. Teachers can coordinate with school counselors / social worker to support students and provide contact information for resources supporting students/families if someone is looking for help.
I will consider The Tommy Project a success if just one person reaches out to a teacher, staff member, guidance counselor, mental health professional or substance abuse professional seeking help for themselves or a loved one.
I am excited to be attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida (ERAU FL) in Fall 2022 where I plan to study Homeland Security and Global Conflict Studies. I envision a safer, more secure tomorrow, and see myself in some capacity of security. At this time, I want to be a part of a government agency field based or office-based team or a private company that is working towards making our communities near and far safer and more secure. I look forward to working with others who are likeminded about the safety of our communities, our country, and the world. I plan to take advantage of all available resources and opportunities available to me through Embry Riddle to secure a position within the Homeland Security industry. I also plan to continue growing my knowledge of Homeland Security by exploring continuing education options and earning certifications as needed after graduation.
ELIZABETH BIRO - GGSF FALL 2021 RECIPIENT
(Essay Topics: Financial Need / Biggest Challenge / Life Goals)
After reading about who Gina Guthrie was as a person and member of her community, I am inspired by how beautiful a woman she was inside and out. Reading about her life in college, to who she was as matriarch of her family, to her love of travel and how her passions inspired a career change truly resonated with me – because of how much Gina reminds me of my own mom. To say my mom is my best friend or role model would be a vast understatement. She is my favorite person in the world and a blueprint for who I want to be as a person. Similar to how this foundation describes Gina, I would describe my mom as “a beacon of light to everyone she meets.” Whenever there is an opportunity to make a person’s life a little easier and lend a helping-hand, my mom is there with no hesitation. Whether for a neighbor, a close friend, or a stranger, she is the first person to extend a hand and make sure someone can breathe a little easier. I can imagine how Gina embodied these characteristics as well.
Similarly to Gina, my mom has not experienced the smoothest journey when it comes to her health. Despite being one of the healthiest people you would ever meet; my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer my senior year of high school. Ann Holzer is an avid runner, a kickboxer, a triathlete who took great care of herself, listened to her body and kept updated with her doctor’s visits which included getting a mammogram every 6 months. The news of her diagnosis was shocking for everyone close to her. My mom found her tumors from a self-examination and went back to the doctors until the mammograms discovered them. As a recently single parent with three children entering college on top of preexisting stress, there were blockades from finding silver linings in my mom’s life, yet she always found one. It would have been easy for my mom be down on herself or her life. However, her light never dimmed. My mom chose to share her story as she now advocates for preventative care and early detection. In doing this, my mom has helped multiple women catch signs of breast cancer early. My mom has now been cancer-free for four years. As of the day I am writing this, she was also accepted into UCF’s nursing program where she aims to be a nurse oncologist. In becoming one, she wants to be the light for others that her nurses were for her during her fight. Ann Holzer is the most gracious person on this planet. The world could throw anything at her and she would naturally find a silver lining. She is grateful for all of life’s blessings and can turn what most people would consider a bad situation into a blessing. I want this scholarship so I can help my mom breathe a little easier and remove some of the stress of having to provide for me. She has been back in college for two years now while working multiple jobs to provide for myself and my two brothers. I would use the money so I am able to take away some of the financial stress she will experience as she finishes nursing school.
As I stated before, searching for silver linings has always been a major part of how my family handles hard times. When I was 14 years old, my parents divorced. It was a difficult process for my entire family. It was shocking for myself and my two brothers because of how well our parents hid their problems for years. It was confusing, heart-breaking, and altered the way I view love, trust, and relationships. This was the first time I saw my parents as actual human beings with their own problems instead of two perfect humans raising me, which caused me to grow-up quickly. Now that I am older, I look back and do not say that in a negative way. I believe my parents’ split has built me into the person I am today: a strong woman who is sure of herself. I was not raised by two unhappy people in a fractured marriage who stayed together for the kids. Instead, I was raised by two people who learned to be happy by themselves and worked together to take care of those who they loved most -- their kids. I developed stronger relationships with each of my parents who taught me lessons that I take with me everywhere I go. My mom taught me independence, how to respect yourself and be respected, that the only impossible journey is the one you never begin and, of course, the power of finding silver linings. My dad taught me my work ethic and is my constant reminder I can accomplish anything I work hard for. My dad showed me how real men feel and show emotion, the value of being a good listener, how to cope with my anxiety and that a good watching of The Sound of Music can fix anything -- but if you don’t have a lot of time just watch the part where Christopher Plummer sings Edelweiss. Both my parents show me each day how they would do anything for me and my brothers, and at the end of the day family is the most important thing.
My family lives in two different homes but I would never say they were divided. Yes, times were hard for my family. Yes, it was an obstacle for each of us. Yes, it felt like the worst thing when it happened. Nonetheless, that does not mean there were not silver linings or that I am not grateful for how it shaped me. This is because I have two happy, loving parents. To answer the question of how I got through it: through the strength of both of my parents, the support of my siblings and the choice to find a silver lining behind every dark cloud.
I have maintained the same goal for my life. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a journalist. There is always a story to be told if you just take a moment and listen. I love meeting people, hearing their stories, and making their voice heard. Stories have the power to make people feel and enact real change.
I am a telecommunication news major at the University of Florida and work at the campus station WUFT News. I have produced and hosted NPR All Things Considered, composed stories for the WUFT First at Five show, am a founding member of a social media news show called The Lede and currently the founding member of my own WUFT show called The Breakdown.
In my time working for the station, I have fallen in love with the small community of Alachua County. I have covered the passing of local activist Patricia Hilliard Nunn, a local post office closing, a stand in by the teacher’s union on UF campus, a plan to build on a conservation area called McCarty Woods, the passing of UF students due to traffic accidents and much more. Journalism is the first draft of history. Local stories can seem small but when you look at larger world issues, they may be boiled down to one incident in a small community.
I believe in the power journalism possesses to inform. I am considered my friends’ go-to source when they have questions on what is going on in the news. I believe there are two sides to every story and my job is to tell a fair and neutral account of these stories. I am an avid learner and am constantly researching or deep diving into even the most obscure topics. I consider myself a jack of all trades, which benefits me in my writing. One day, I may be deep diving into the flaws of vertical integration in the marijuana industry and how it inhibits small businesses and minority businesses. The next day, I could be explaining how the politization of the pandemic is nothing new in history and can be seen in the response to yellow fever. I believe information is the most powerful tool and every person has the right to be fully informed. I pride myself in the unbiased stories I write and that I can be an outlet of information to people so they can make better, more informed decisions and benefit mankind as a whole.
My final goal (and this is me speaking it into existence) is to be on Jeopardy. Like I said, I’m curious and I love to learn.
BLAKE ANDERSON - GGSF SPRING 2021 RECIPIENT
(Essay Topics: Financial Need / Biggest Challenge / Life Goals)
Some people question their purpose in life. I am blessed to know that mine is to share my incredible story and give thanks to God by being the best I can be in all that I do. Considering my prognosis before entering this world, it is a miracle that I am able to write this essay, especially with regard to pursuing a bachelor degree and playing baseball at the collegiate level!
When specialists in Philadelphia scheduled the abortion that day 18 years ago, they assumed my parents would trust them, especially after promising no hope of a positive outcome. Thankfully my parents believed that whether my twin brother and I would live our lives severely disabled, or not have lives to live at all, was in God’s hands—not theirs. We were born three months premature and barely weighed two pounds. My family and I endured many hard years—physically, financially and emotionally. I am grateful for those challenges as it has made me who I am, including a hard-working leader in the classroom, on the ball field and in my community. Looking back at my birth, it is a blessing that I can also do many physical things, including baseball. Ever since I was six years old, baseball is the one sport I wanted to play. Now, as a senior at Jay M Robinson high school, I realize how great I have it and how fast life goes when you're having fun. Everything I do in life revolves around my miracle birth. Even drinking a glass of water on my own or eating the last piece of cake is a blessing to me as I look back on what could have been.
Fast forward, and here I am in my last year of high school writing this essay. Without God and the faith of my parents, my story would be much different.
It is such a blessing to be attending Montreat College this fall. My first visit on campus was exciting. That first step I took out of my car, I thought to myself, “this is where I want to be.” It was a peaceful, comforting feeling—a love at first sight! A small Christian school with good morals and values was something I looked for as we researched and toured many colleges--and Montreat fulfilled all of those. Even with it being out of my family’s budget, it was still the place I felt I belonged and made my parents comfortable at the thought of me attending here. My parents would much rather me be at a college that has good values, staff and coaches, supporting me in growing into the best person I can be, than to go to a much less expensive college that doesn’t offer the same.
My mom had health issues that started when she was in college. She was told that she may never be able to carry her own child. She went through numerous surgeries in order to have my brother, Jake. Then she did it all over again and had my brother, Nick. Surprisingly, when Nick was just an infant, they found out she was pregnant again! This time with no intervention at all! My parents initially had college funds saved for my two brothers, but with Luke and my premature birth, ongoing years of health conditions and therapies, they depleted all of the savings they had, including the college funds. My mom also had to stop working to take care of us. Thankfully, we are, for the most part, healthy now and mom has a successful career once again. We got back up on our feet, however, we have budgets to follow now—my brothers and I have to have skin in the game for our own college expenses.
I was awarded a $12,000 scholarship from the Montreat baseball athletic program. I am very grateful for that, however, it only covers about a fourth of my total freshman year cost. The coach was very honest, letting me know that I did not earn that much due to my athleticism and that much of it was granted because of who I am--a humble leader by example, a coachable athlete, and an honest and dependable student. That’s a lot of responsibility to live up to but I am confident that I will continue on the right path and exceed expectations that the coaching staff has for me.
Every chance I can get to earn more for college, I will try hard to secure. The baseball scholarship can change each year so hopefully by working hard, I will earn a little more in my sophomore through senior years. My goal for my first year is to raise scholarship funds to any number more than $12,000. This means I will have to train and study hard my freshman year, which is something I am willing to do if that is one more cent toward paying for college. Training and studying benefits not only my financial situation but my baseball experience, student life and my future career.
I believe setting good examples to other kids is one of the most important things a person can do. One day, I hope to be married and have kids of my own. I know that I will lead them on the right path and teach them good morals and values with Montreat helping me along that path.
Being premature comes with other costs than just the financial. My body did not develop the way a full-term baby would. My back, hips, and muscles are much tighter than the average person so I have to do daily stretches to withstand normal flexibility. Having to do much more than the average person does definitely makes me a mentally stronger person as I have felt that over the years of this adversity. Not being the physically gifted kid on the baseball field gives me more motivation to do as much as I can to be a better ball player.
I am truly blessed to have parents who have taught me well and have shown good examples to me throughout my life. Now that is all I really know to do with others. Mrs. Guthrie was the same way. Ever since Luke and I swam on the CCC team where we first met her, she never forgot us or my parents. We don’t ever remember a time running into her around town where she didn’t make us feel as though we were the most important people in the world—always had a HUGE smile, big hug and acted as though it was a blessing to see us—when it was really the other way around. Showing others and leading by example is something I love to do. Being around kids who may have not been well guided through their younger life is a challenge to me but I don’t shy away. I just try to shine the light of Jesus through being a good example. The best gift I’ve ever received was to witness one of these kids give his life to Christ after accepting invitations from me to attend youth group and retreats. Whether I make it to the MLB, become a successful doctor of exercise science, or be an awesome stay-at-home dad, my goal in life will ALWAYS be to lead by example as I follow God on my own journey.
ANSLEY JONES - GGSF FALL 2020 RECIPIENT
(Essay Topics: Financial Need / Dream Trip / Favorite Meal)
During my junior year of high school my parents went through a divorce, and after it was finalized my parents began to live on their own. My mom is a flight attendant who has to work long hours away from home and often struggles to make ends meet. I help by working to pay for my expenditures along with whatever my mom can not afford for the month such as school costs or groceries. By the end of my senior year of high school, I balanced taking several AP classes, volunteering with the special needs students at my school, playing on the varsity golf team, and working three jobs - waiting tables, babysitting, and working for an afterschool program once a week. My plate was more than full, but I managed my time well and learned many valuable skills by doing so.
Now as a student at the University of Florida, I am on track to graduate in May 2022 with a major in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences and double-minor in Sociology and Communication Studies. With this degree, I can become a Child Life Specialist, or continue my education on the Accelerated B.S.N. track to become a nurse. Either way, my goal is to return to Wolfson Children’s Hospital and work on the same floor where I received cancer treatment to help children and families who are facing similar challenges that I have. In addition to my academics and being an active member of Kappa Delta, I am a Campus Ambassador for Gift of Life Marrow Registry and a member of Footprints Buddy and Support Program. As a Campus Ambassador, I coordinate with many clubs and organizations on campus to host bone marrow drives with the hope of finding life-saving matches for people with blood cancer. This past year alone, I personally registered over 600 people to the international bone marrow registry and found a match for a patient battling AML - the same type of Leukemia I had. As a member of Footprints, I look forward to volunteering over three hours each week on the pediatric hematology/oncology/immunosuppressed unit at Shands. By engaging in one-on-one play, I can help these “kids just be kids” during their treatment which I know the value of firsthand.
To continue helping my family with the many expenses of attending college, I work year-round. While I am at school I work roughly 20 hours each week as a server at Bonefish Grill. During the summer when I am home, I work 50+ hours each week by babysitting during the day and waiting tables at a local seafood restaurant in the evening. My work schedule is very busy, but it allows me to cover the costs of my personal expenditures as well as my dues for Kappa Delta. This scholarship would help me lift the financial burden of college and sorority expenses, and any amount of scholarship would be a significant help and greatly appreciated.
As a Kappa Delta, I am constantly surrounded by so many kind-hearted, empowering women who inspire me to reach my full potential. From day one, I have been supported and uplifted, and this has instilled confidence in myself. I have made so many incredible memories and friendships that will last a lifetime, and I look forward to the memories that will be made.
I have a very adventurous spirit and would love to travel all over the world, but the place at the very top of my travel bucket list is South Africa. I have always been fascinated by African culture, and after years of working hard and saving money, I finally have the opportunity to go. This summer I planned to study abroad for five weeks in South Africa, but because of COVID-19, the program was postponed to ensure everyone’s health and safety. If all goes well, I will be traveling to my dream destination next summer and I could not be any more excited!
The first two weeks take place in Capetown where we will learn about South African culture, history, and personal leadership, and get to explore many unique places that can only be found there - including Boulders Beach, home of the African penguins. The third week shifts its focus to hands-on service and connecting with the community of Sir Lowry’s Pass, a small township located outside of Capetown. There, we will be paired with a local host family to learn about living in this township from a first-hand perspective as we provide an after-school program and engage with the youth through sports, arts and crafts, music, and dance. The fourth week of the program is a 5-day road trip along the Garden Route to explore many areas of this beautiful country. I love pursuing exciting adventures and trying new things, so I am especially excited for this week. Some of the activities on this adventure week include: seeing nature up close on a safari, having class in Tsitsikamma National Park, cage diving with sharks, and jumping off the world’s largest bungee bridge. We will spend the last week in Capetown and focus on how we can apply our personal growth to our lives going forward.
Overall, I would love to visit South Africa so I may better appreciate other backgrounds than my own. Through this immersive learning program, I will not only gain knowledge of African customs and traditions, but I will also be able to share my experiences with others to promote unity among different cultures. Gandhi once said, “Culture is rooted in the hearts and in the soul of its people,” and I want to meet all kinds of people.
As an avid food lover and an adventurous eater, I have tried many unique cuisines from around the world - including curried goat while on a mission trip in Tobago. However, my favorite meal I’ve ever had was much less out of the ordinary.
Two weeks after my fourteenth birthday I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia,
a very aggressive form of blood cancer, and two months after my sixteenth birthday I relapsed. Altogether, I have spent nearly a year of my life in Wolfson Children’s Hospital, endured copious amounts of chemotherapy, received a bone marrow transplant, and suffered nearly every possible side effect that could have come along with treatment. One side effect in particular was debilitating sores that lined my mouth, esophagus, and stomach. These sores were so painful I was not able to eat for six weeks. During that time, I received nutrition as a liquid through my central line, but the full feeling I experienced was nothing close to eating actual food. As the sores started to heal and the pain was less excruciating, I began to introduce food back into my diet. I had to start very slowly to make sure my body would be able to digest everything properly without overreacting and going into shock. The first item I could have was juice, and then a week later I was allowed to try smoothies and milkshakes. The next week I could eat very
simple foods like applesauce and Jello, and another week after that I could have more solid, but still soft foods like mashed potatoes and pancakes. It took nearly 5 weeks to acclimate my body to solid foods, but by the time my doctors allowed me to eat a full meal I was ecstatic.
The first meal I ate after treatment was from my favorite restaurant Chipotle. I celebrated with my parents and ordered my usual: a burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, grilled chicken, fajita peppers, mild salsa, sweet corn, extra lettuce, and guacamole on the side. With each bite, I experienced so many flavors and a wonderful sensation that I had missed so much. As we enjoyed our meal, my parents and I reflected on all the challenges I was able to overcome, and what my future plans might look like. I have eaten at Chipotle several times before and after this day, but this particular meal is my favorite because I was finally able to do one of my favorite things - enjoy delicious food with people I love.
Today, I am so blessed to say that I have beat cancer twice and have been in remission for over four years. I’m not glad that I got cancer, but because I did and survived what felt like a never-ending uphill battle, I have grown more as a person, and for that I am thankful. I would like to think I’ve always been an optimistic person, but now I truly do look at everything from a more positive point of view and recognize the importance of living in the moment - even the simple moments like eating a meal with the people I love.
JOHANNA CHIANG - GGSF FALL 2020 RECIPIENT
(Essay Topics: Financial Need / Dream Trip / Favorite Meal)
My name is Johanna Chiang and I an upcoming sophomore at the University of Florida and member of the Kappa Delta Beta Pi Chapter. I know this is the essay portion where I state my financial need, but I have to begin with the fact that I am truly saddened that I will never get to meet the Gina Guthrie. I was never planning on joining on a sorority in fear that my interests, faith, and goals would not line up with other girls, but I gave it a chance and now I love it; from the support system, to the community group, to opportunities for involvement Kappa Delta has given me so much more than I could have ever imagined. Gina’s life was introduced to me through Kappa Delta and I am so thankful even though I did not get the chance to meet her, I was able to read about her life. Gina’s love for travel, food, and involvement resonate deeply with me as those are three crucial aspects of my life. When I read about how she taught English in Japan I was amazed because when I visited Japan I felt a real culture shock so the fact that she chose to teach English in this foreign country was really inspiring. Also, I visit my local market called the Saturday Morning Market here in St. Petersburg almost every week to seek out locally made food usually leading me to buy 3-4 empanadas, at least 2 arepas, and sometimes a Belgium waffle with ice cream if I’m feeling hungry, so I just know I would have loved her stand with ravioli and focaccia bread. I remember older members telling us about looking up to alumni, especially those who share your interests and goals and after reading about Gina I realized she embodied so much of what I want for myself in the future.
I am majoring in nursing and hope to become a travel nurse so I can explore new cultures, try new foods, and meet and help people all over the world. With that said, If I were to be the recipient the scholarship fund, I would use it to help my parents pay for classes and especially textbooks (you don’t realize how expensive those things are until freshman year of college). This scholarship would help my family save money on tuition which would further help me save money because my ultimate goal is to study abroad. Studying abroad has many expenses therefore any saved money would aid me in eventually saving enough to achieve that goal by junior year. I would love to help my parents in anyway with finances because my mom also has had a kidney transplant and severe arthritis which often prevents her from being able to work from the pain or in really bad cases leads to hospitalization. My parents have sacrificed so much for my siblings and I and work so hard to support us in college in every aspect therefore I would love to help them financially as much as possible.
It has been a honor to learn about Gina’s life and impact on world and I thank you for your consideration for this scholarship.
The Philippines; a place where cheese on top of ice cream is normal, sweet tasting spaghetti is a fan-favorite, and rice with every meal is must.
The Philippines; a place with the clearest waters, an abundance of islands to visit, and a very deep-rooted culture.
The Philippines; the original home of my parents, the home of many relatives and cousins, and it is the place I long to travel back to.
The reasons why I am willing to endure the gruesome 20 hour flight all over can be summed into three F’s; food, fun, and family. If I have learned anything from Filipino food is that rice can be eaten with literally anything. A typical day of eating in the Philippines consisted of rice and eggs for breakfast, rice and chicken for lunch, rice and fish for dinner, and then sticky rice and mango for dessert. So when I say rice can be eaten with anything, I mean it. My mom and dad have never been the greatest chefs (mom, dad, if you read this I’m sorry) so when we went to the Philippines and their family was constantly preparing food, I felt like royalty. Stuffed to the utter max, I often could do nothing but lie down after meals because of how much I would consume. I was eating Asian-style comfort food every single day and boy do I miss it now. Also, a must have Filipino food is called Lumpia. Lumpia is a fried spring roll; definitely the superior spring roll. Filled with beef and vegetables and dipped in sweet chili sauce the taste is truly immaculate. Every event I ever had in school my parents would bring lumpia and it was a hit every single time without fail. Even just typing this I can feel my mouth watering, longing for the crisp bite and perfect sweet and salty taste. Filipino food sadly is not abundant in Florida and my mom hasn’t quite mastered her culinary skills, so in all honestly, I would to return to the Philippines merely just to eat.
Growing up 10 minutes from the beach in sunny St. Petersburg is what began my love for swimming. I loved snorkeling but the waters were never very clear, and the fish were always scarce. When we traveled to the Philippines the first place we went was to an island called El Nido to snorkel. The crystal blue waters, bright coral reefs, vast greenery, and lack of people, made me feel as if I was on documentary of the Discovery Channel or Travel Network. After a long day of swimming anyone would be starving, but who needs to go out to a restaurant when the locals can cook dinner on the boat? Prepared on banana leaves, they set out whole fishes, assortments of meat, some vegetables, and of course tons of rice. Breath taking scenery, delicious food, and time with my family, there was truly nothing more I could ask for. I found myself in such a content state, thankful for everything I had, and not wanting anything else. My parents told me they would come here as teenagers to hang out with friends; whereas I as a teenager went to movies, my parents lived in one.
I come from a big family. My mom has 2 siblings, but my dad has 6 and no matter which side, every aunt and uncle has kids, giving me a plethora of cousins. My fondest memory is my cousins waking me up at seven in the morning to feed to the chicks on the farm. I am not at all a morning person but for animals, I’ll do just about anything. A good chunk of my cousins are around my age and when I visited we would do everything together. From staying up all night to next day early morning church services in a short amount of time they became my best friends. It’s been a good 4 years since I’ve seen most of them therefore, I would love to go back to see them in real life, catch up, hang out, and above all, just hug them.
I was born in Florida but my parents moved here in 1990 from the Philipines. When I visited I felt closer to them because I was able to learn so much about their childhoods and life before America. My trip to the Philippines was also humbling, as I saw the life that I could’ve had versus the life that my parents made for me. The trip gave me a new appreciation for everything I have and a thankfulness that has not left me to this day. Aside from bringing me closer to my family it brought me closer to my culture which is something that is very important to me. As I grow up and become more independent my culture is something that I want to stick with me, I want it to be something I could teach others about, and this trip expanded my knowledge greatly. I wish to go back someday to eat more, to learn more, and to gain more experiences because to me, experiences are everything and I would love to create new memories if ever given the opportunity to return.
For as long as I can remember my dad has peer-pressured me into trying new foods. Although at the time I despised him for making me try crazy foods like fertilized duck eggs, or cow intestines, I now have an overwhelming appreciation for food and seek out interesting new foods wherever we travel.
Before traveling to Japan I hated fish. I hated the smell, the texture, and I especially hated sushi. After Japan, my go to food has become sushi; raw, cooked, sashimi you name it and I will eat it. With that in mind…My oh-so beloved meal that I would love to be able to taste again has to be fresh sushi and seafood from the Japanese fish market we visited during our vacation.
Getting food from markets when we travel has always been an essential aspect of our vacations. I truly feel that some of the best foods come from local businesses, but people often miss out on them because they aren’t as widely advertised as large restaurants. I think it’s the fact that these hidden gems of places use family recipes, local ingredients, and truly care about the quality of what they produce that makes their food so much more delicious.
Upon entering the fish market, the first step was to do a full lap around the whole market. Survey the abundance of options, contemplate, then make your choice. A good two minutes into our walk I broke the rules. I saw what I wanted in all of its glory and had to have it, ignoring the fact I still had half the market to see. Fresh tuna sashimi. You may wonder how I knew it was fresh, and it is because they were cutting the fish right in front of us and serving it. As we sat down and awaited them to cut our pieces my mouth began to water, I poured my soy sauce as slowly as possible to distract myself, hoping that by the time I finished pouring I could dive in. The taste was exquisite; it tasted rich and fresh and felt as though it melted in my mouth. To this day I have not had any sushi t hat even comes close to the quality of that fish. It was shocking that something so simple could be so satisfying. My description does even begin to explain how good this sushi was, but for lack of better culinary terminology; the sushi tasted like how getting a 4.0 gpa for the semester would feel. Overall, I think it was the experience and the immaculate taste that contributed to this being my favorite meal. Exploring unknown areas with my family and then to be rewarded with the most delectable food has consistently been the source of some of my fondest memories. Being able to do what I love (eating food) with the people I love is an experience that I would do over again and again especially if it included that tuna.
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