We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofKris Palmones

Growing up in the Philippines, I've always experienced a culture of love. I've never experienced hate with the people that surrounded me. I always thought that friends and family will always have your back, and that you can put your trust in them. That was what I was taught as a little kid. I may fight with some of them, but we would make up with no hesitation. It was all love, even if the world is full of hate.

One night around summertime back in the motherland, I was getting ready to head to bed. I brushed my teeth, and I put some shorts and a tank top on since it was scorching. Everybody else in the house was still up, but I was too tired to go downstairs and go spend time with them. I closed my eyes, and all there was darkness, and silence. A few minutes of just silence and then all of a sudden I heard a gunshot from right across the street. It was so loud the whole subdivision could hear it. Being an innocent kid I just thought it was some fireworks, but it did scare the crap out of me. I was curious though and instead of staying in my room and trying to sleep, I wanted to see what was going on, so I got up and looked through the balcony. As I looked straight I saw somebody laying on the ground with our neighbors surrounding them crying. They weren't moving at all. Just life less on the ground. I couldn't see much since it was dark, so I went outside to see what the commotion was. As I walked out, I asked around what was happening and to my surprise, one of my close family friends got shot dead after getting in a fight with another one of our close family friends. They got drunk and got into a stupid argument. One of them grabbed a shotgun and the unfortunate happened. Blood spilled  all over the dirt. Police sirens could be heard from another city. The body was covered in some type of white cloth. Everything felt slowed down like in slow motion, and I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to throw up. My parents came and took me back inside the house. Their faces were filled with grim, and tears were falling down my mom's eyes. I never would've expected for such a thing to happen. I came back into bed, but I wasn't able to sleep. Just a blank expression on my face, staring at the ceiling.

After that night, I started to question everything. Why do such things happen? Days go by, and everything that happened that night starts to get blurry. The memory fades, but the damage it had on me is still stuck. I lost trust in people, and it just changed me completely. I've never been the same since. The incident left me confused with a lot of questions unanswered. I moved to the U.S about a year later thinking it might change my mindset. It just got worse as I found people more fake, and got hurt by people I trusted the most. I just became colder on the inside. As much as I don't like what I became as a person, I always got my guard up now and always protected myself from all types of things. I was taught that things happen for a reason, and maybe that was the reason I became strong. I may not trust a lot of people, but thanks to my friends I found some peace and happiness in life.

© Kris Palmones. 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.