When drinking water, my grandmother would often proclaim, "Never forget its source." For some reason, I always enjoyed hearing her repeat these words of wisdom from her book of ancient Asian proverbs. Perhaps it was because I had grown to fully appreciate its true meaning-that one must always remember and treasure their ancestry and elders, who are viewed as the ultimate source of life. Or, perhaps it was because I felt this proverb effectively expressed my own sentiments about my life. Growing up as an only child, I developed a very close relationship with
My entire family and I greatly valued the time I was able to spend in the company of my elders, especially my grandmother. As a survivor of the Japanese American internment camps, she maintained an unbridled idealism, an impeccable work ethic and a genuine compassion for that in need. Moreover, she was intent on instilling these values in me when I was a young boy. I often looked to her as my true source of strength, for she always infused me with energy, passion and ideals. Two years ago, I received a call from my parents urging me to return home. When I got there, I saw my mother was on the verge of tears as she told me what was wrong: "Grandma passed away today. She had a massive stroke and the doctors did everything they could, but..." I embraced my mother and we cried for what seemed like an eternity. I soon realized that I
Had lost not only my grandmother, but also a precious source of inspiration and strength.
Since that tragic day, I have become a much stronger person. I have internalized
Grandma's work ethic, idealism and compassion so that my source of strength now comes from within. It is this new motivation that fuels my convictions and drives my passion for a life dedicated to public service.
Every day, when I pass by the elegantly sculpted water fountains on my way to class, I pause as cherished memories of my grandmother fill my mind, and I know in my heart that I will never forget my true source.