I always assign an essay early on in my first-year composition classes that asks students to reflect on their educational experiences and how those experiences have led them to enroll in college. This afternoon I read one of these essays by a woman who grew up in Afghanistan. Her family moved to Pakistan when the Taliban made education for females illegal, and then moved back to Afghanistan once the Taliban were overthrown before finally moving to the United States.
Her essay was one of the most powerful student papers I have ever read because of how passionate and grateful she was for the opportunity to get an education. Although I value education and am a scholar because I love acquiring knowledge, I realize that I am unable to appreciate how much of a privilege it is to be able to be a student (and now a teacher) and to also be able to read any book that I would like because these things have always been readily available to me, and so I take them for granted to a certain extent even when I think actively about appreciating them. I am grateful for stories like hers because they remind me to appreciate what I have.