By Dan Ambrose
Writing an essay for “This I Believe” can be far-reaching, and students won’t know how revealing the essay will be until they try to write one. No one else can tell your story better than you, a writer said on Tuesday night.
Gediman stressed the benefits of writing an essay for “This I Believe” in Trout Auditorium on Tuesday, September 6. “I really encourage you. Even if you don’t show it to anyone. Do it for yourself,” Gediman said.
“This I Believe” is a non-profit organization that collects and preserves the essays and personal statements of people from all different walks of life. Its origins began in the 19
50s as a small radio series in Philadelphia. The “This I Believe” program soon made its way onto the national scene, with both the famous and the unknown contributing their beliefs.
Around 50 years later, in the early 2000s, the “This I Believe” project was re-discovered by Gediman, who found that the post-9/11 America was in need of a set of values and beliefs to bring society closer together. “If we put good ideas, free ideas, in front of people, that will cure the ails of America,” he said.
“This I Believe” found itself in the hands of members of the class of 2015, who were instructed to read the book as part of a series of orientation events which included discussions during Orientation and connections in their Transition to College classes. Students were also urged to write their own “This I Believe” essays describing their own ideas and beliefs.
Seventy-five students did so, and a lucky 11 were chosen to receive a $50 gift certificate to the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore and dinner with Gediman himself. When asked about what his essay, contest winner Colin Hassell ’15 said, “It made me think about what has been significant in my life, what has made me who I am today.”
The main argument that Gediman made during his speech was a simple one: write a “This I Believe” essay. Scores of scholars, presidents, actors, and entrepreneurs have done so. The list is extensive: Harry Truman, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many more. But just as many average, everyday citizens have written what they believe as well, and some of these essays are even more touching.“I find it easier to relate to the passages written by people like me than by famous people who I share little in common with,” Michelle Dabkowski ’15 said.
Writing an essay, however, is no easy task. “Every day people are writing billions of words on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but it’s still tough to sit down and think up five hundred words. It’s easy to write posts on the Internet or assignments for class. But there’s something difficult about writing down what values make me who I am, even if it is only a few paragraphs worth of words,” Noah Aronson said.