Driving on an unpaved dirt road, we pass the local Dine’ Market. Desert as far as the eye can see. Broken-down cars and trucks on bricks line the streets. Stopping to get a drink at the Mustang Gas Station, which is not too far from the Old Hogan. Giving my change to a man who seemingly slept by the pump the night before and I hope he uses it for a meal that day, and not a drink that night. Children running through the streets howling like coyotes, half-naked and filthy from playing in the waterhole. Untamed horses abruptly running loose through the recently watered cornfield, disturbing the famished crows. They are famished for a very good reason; it is 102 degrees today.

Not quite the best first impression; however, I step out of my excessively equipped, family sports utility vehicle with nothing but optimism in my heart and anticipation in my eyes. I cannot wait! I am fourteen years old and this is the year I will have my Kinallda. The year I finally become a woman. I walk over to the Old Hogan, almost overwhelmed with excitement, but slightly frightened. My hands and forehead begin to sweat. All I can think of is the look on my parent’s faces when the tradition is complete. When they at long last will speak the words, “my daughter is a woman!”

I have never had a Navajo ceremony performed in my honor before. I’ve attended many, on countless occasions, but never have I had to endure the rituals physically. My mother was born and raised on the Navajo reservation, but our family comes back to visit only once a year. These visits were insufferable for me before, however this year is special. This year I will be blessed! I am rushed into my bilth (a rug dress) and turquoise jewelry. The ceremony is four excruciating days of hard work and tests of my endurance. Testing my ability to tackle difficult situations, and teaching me the old ways of my people.

When the last prayer has been made and the last song, sung, the ceremony is complete. I am now a woman. In these four days, I felt myself grow and mature. I knew I was a different person. I was a better person! I knew that I could no longer be content with the way my Native-American family was living. Raised poverty stricken and corrupted from their infantry. Since I have grown as a person, I will strive to be more than I was before. I want to become financially stable so that I can help the community I’ve grown to love so much.

Inspiration can come in many shapes and forms, to all colors and creeds, but what precisely is it? Inspiration by definition is a divine influence. My inspiration is the home that I visit once a year, my sanctuary. I picture the colorful mountains, the sounds of the wind and eagles screaming, and the air so warm and embracing. At night the sky is so clear, the stars appear to be only an inch away. The sunrises reveal the truth that there is a God.

Entering high school is a huge step. I’ve always had an interest in business, so instead of taking all honors or AP courses, I focused on what interests me the most. Therefore, I applied for the business academy. This academy allows me to be involved within my community, from my four years of volunteer work at the Boys and Girls Club of Whittier to the Chamber of Commerce activities, I am invited to because I am a student representative. The minimum community service required for this academy is 30 hours but all totaling up to over a 150 hours of community service. I believe that, by pursuing my career and accomplishing my goals, I will have an opportunity to make life easier for the ones I love. Home is where he heart is, and my heart belongs to my people.

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