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Photo ofKausu Sillah

When I first started driving, it wasn’t close to the way I had pictured driving to be. When I was younger, I thought you used both legs to drive, but instead you're actually instructed to use only one. I never saw anyone use both legs, but I always said to myself that I would be different and use both legs when driving.

As a young child, I started to teach myself the signs on the roads and what they indicated. Once I got a little older I started practicing for my permit, hoping I could pass. In order for me to be really prepared, I downloaded three different types of RMV permit question apps. I was really determined, so I practiced for long hours after doing my homework. After two weeks of extreme studying, I went to take my permit test. As I was walking up the stairs of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, I was really nervous that I would fail because if I failed I would be really disappointed in myself.

Once I got registered for my test I waited for my name to be called so I could take the exam. Finally, they called my name, and I was placed in front of the computer ready to take the test. The first question was the same question from the apps I had downloaded. By the tenth question I had only gotten one answer wrong. I was so happy to see that everything was going as I hoped it would be.

I finished my test within fifteen minutes, and passed with a high score. When I passed my test I was really excited and proud because I put so much effort into achieving this goal. Sharing the good news with my friends and family felt good because all the people who wished me good luck were really happy and proud. 

Now that I had the first part of the driving process complete, I could start learning how to actually drive a car. I asked my father if we could go on the main road and drive, not thinking of my level of experience. He responded that we couldn’t go on the main road because, “Why would we go on the main road when you don't even know how to drive on the side streets without crashing?”

I stared at him speechless, realizing what he was saying was true. I never thought it could've been that difficult to drive a car. The following day my father woke me up early and took me to an open parking lot and had me sit behind the steering wheel. The first thing he told me was how to put the car in drive, use the windshield wipers, and turn on the blinkers. Finally, he taught me the difference between the brake pedal and the gas pedal because they are so close to each other. After learning the major information of the driver’s side, I moved the shifter from park to drive, placing my foot softly on the gas. I was moving the car at the pace of a turtle, but my heart was beating as fast as a jack rabbit. I only moved at least two meters when I decided to press too hard on the brakes and jerked the whole car. 

For my first time driving I was not happy with myself. I could tell my father was a little annoyed but didn't want to show it. I understood where he was coming from, and I’d be the same way if I was teaching someone how to drive and they slammed the brakes like a maniac. 

Day two of driving practice was the next day, and I thought about all the mistakes I made, hoping to correct them. I was fully engaged when I was in the driver's seat. I shifted from park to drive once again, slowly pressing the gas to accelerate. I drove up the street and turned the corner and came right back to my starting position without jerking the car or making any other mistakes. I was proud of myself because I successfully drove the car around the block -- and I didn’t need to use both feet to do it.

© Kausu Sillah. 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.