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There I was sitting in my truck that I have worked so long and hard on, about to turn the key for the first time. I think back to the previous summers I have spent working in the heat to get to the point I am at now. I was worried, thinking about all the things that could go wrong, especially knowing who is responsible for restoring it. I turn the key, the engine cranks over a few times and nothing… 

My family is very divided. I have never met my mother’s side in the Philippines and have barely seen my father's side. My parents are divorced and have split custody. But this story has been a larger part of my life for the last couple years. It all started in November 2018 when I was 14 and my father called me over and introduced me to a listing for a 2000 chevy s10. We went and looked at it, and to my joy, we sealed the deal and bought it on the spot. I checked outside to see when it would arrive. Days had passed and soon a week, and upon my arrival outside that one fall morning, I was filled with joy to see my very own car sitting in the driveway. 

I was nervous to start such a large project, larger than I've ever done before. I've helped my father work with his truck for as long as I can remember. But I never did anything too complicated, just hand some tools, hold this or tighten that. This presented more of a challenge especially as it was in rough condition. 

I went out and worked on the truck every day or every day of a two-day weekend - because of the divorce I'm only there on the weekends. Every time I worked, I met another small challenge I had to overcome. In 2020 the truck was nearing completion, and we started to paint it and put it back together. When the cab and frame were finished what felt like a lifetime of work was almost complete. With the rust chipped away and the cold front approaching we were ready to attempt to start it. I got up inside, sat down and inserted the key. Ready to start it for the first time. 

I think back to the previous summers I have spent working in the heat to get to the point I am at now. I was worried, thinking about all the things that could go wrong, especially knowing who is responsible for restoring it. I press the gas pedal a few times and turn the key. The engine cranks over a few times and nothing. We put some gas in the engine and keep trying...nothing. I started to get a little nervous. We looked around for leaks, but couldn't find anything. Then it hit me. My fear faded as I realized I somehow forgot to plug the gas pump to the battery. I hitched it up, turned the key and bam it started right up. Joy flooded my thoughts and relief cooled my nerves as all that hard work came to a positive and calming outcome. 

I soon realized after reaching this milestone that it wasn't as difficult as I first imagined it to be, but instead it was an experience. I learned many new skills and obtained a new way to express my unique identity and culture by giving me the opportunity to reflect my style and my imagination into my hands to create and design something. I faced my fear, worked hard for a goal, used creatively with new and old skills alike, all the while being able to bond with my father.

© Carlos Dow. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.