Within the plain, white, confining walls that border our composition classroom in the depths of the Netherlands core, there sits a student who is so completely opposite to the barriers that surround us all. As an avid participant in classroom discussions, she is easy to notice amongst the blur of faces as one looks around the circle of occupied desks. Positivity and intelligence simply radiate from her aura, bringing the rest of the students, including myself, out of our own stupors and back into a mentality that is prepared to learn.
I came to know her beyond the handmade name tag reading “Kelsey” that sits tall before her every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Kelsey Picciano is an indispensable contributor to our class. With her unmistakably sensible personality, passionate drive for leadership, and inextinguishable positivity, she is the person who makes our class more responsive to the infinite possibilities of new ideas and theories that we explore. What is a hardship truly? It cannot be defined in one simple form and it cannot be calculated on a scale from one to ten, contingent on how devastatingly tragic it had been.
The true measure of a hardship is to be determined by the ones who were affected by it. For Kelsey, her hardships may not rank as a ten on the imaginary scale of misfortune, but they are the reason that she has matured into the perceptive individual she currently is. At a young age, Kelsey’s parents had divorced, and while this may not be the precise calamity that had molded her personality, it had ultimately led to the hardship that did exactly that. With two small, young girls under her care, Kelsey’s mother’s only choice to provide for them a life of contentment was to work, perhaps too strenuously, at a full time job.
This left Kelsey and her sister alone with an array of different caretakers for most days. Kelsey may be grateful that this is what originally brought her to be remarkably close to her older sister, but she is also very aware that the childhood she came to know was occasionally lonely and discouraging. Throughout the hours spent with ever-changing babysitters and a wiser, older sister, she developed a practical way of thinking and a sympathetic view towards the hardships of others. This rationalized thought process she possesses helps us to think reflectively as well and challenge the concepts we analyze with questions of our own.
Her sympathetic nature is illustrated through her caring ne eed to protect her young half brother with gender dysphoria – the sense that one’s outer identity is not compatible with one’s inner gender identity. Although his family, including Kelsey, is extremely accepting of his identity, the outside world is full of insensitive people and this child is no stranger to bullying. Compassion towards others is something she can help our class continue to develop as we move on in the semester. Sensitivity is a way to understand those around us and the issues that they deal with on a daily basis, and in the end it will only unite our class.
Responsibility, just one effective trait of an admirable leader, is an imperative attribute that Kelsey holds and has shown throughout her high school career. From being captain of the varsity girls’ lacrosse team, to being president of a community service initiative called “Lead for Diversity,” she was constantly taking on roles that exposed her perpetual desire to be a leader that others could look to for guidance. As a team member, she learned through hands on experiences how to work with others towards a common goal.
Alternatively, as a captain, she learned to be the voice that pushed her teammates to band together and accomplish any goal they set their mind to. In our composition class, we all have a shared objective as well: to become the best writer that we are capable of being. We are a team, and to realize our mutual goal we must learn to help one another through every essay, journal entry and response we may write. Kelsey is the leader who forces us to assist each other every class, leading by example by way of frequently expressing her opinions aloud and giving her own insight to the topics we discuss.
For example, one early morning she had volunteered to draw the well-known Yin Yang symbol on the board, later explaining that to her it represents a balance between the good and the bad. Similar to her role as a captain, her role as a president brought others together to construct a collective goal. The “Lead for Diversity,” club was meant as a means of communicating the importance of accepting everyone for who they are, despite anything that may make them seem any different from what is considered “normal. ” Her exact words about this project were “I want to make something useful of my time,” (Picciano).
She held an abundance of responsibility; organizing events, starting fundraisers and recruiting new members. Kelsey not only proves her ability to lead a group of people through her presidency of this club, but she once again shows off her supportive, personable disposition. Her impressive skills as a leader translate directly to the classroom every day to help those around her understand how to support each other. It is difficult for most people to keep a positive outlook over the course their lives, but this is exactly what Kelsey strives to do.
She spends her time always looking for the bright side of any situation, not wanting to waste a minute of her time stuck in a state of negativity. Not too long ago, she had come out to her family as bisexual. Her mother, an admirable woman who just happens to be sadly caught up in the world of worrying of what others think (as many people are), did not take to this news very well. Perfection may not exist, but her mother definitely seeks to achieve it, and this news had only created a blemish on the reputation she values so highly.
Although some time has passed and her mother has become more at peace with Kelsey’s identity, it has always been apparent that there are still small parts of her that push Kelsey away to pretend it isn’t true. This occurrence had only opened Kelsey’s eyes to what a terrible life it would be to live in fear of other people’s opinions. Most people will always be ready to hand out their opinions and judgments without realizing who they can harm in the process, but a lifestyle of constant worrying is not how she wishes to live her life.
She declares ‘Why spend your life constantly being sad and upset over little things when it’s not beneficial to anyone, especially yourself,” (Picciano). This positive thinking and outlook that she carries brings in a new perspective to our classroom. While most people spend their time stuck in the past and worrying about things that cannot be changed, Kelsey loo towards brighter days ahead in the future. Students that are normally stuck in a depressive state, constantly worrying about the overwhelming workload that comes with being a student, e the chance to turn their problems into something positive that they can take away.
Looking at things from new angles is part of what our class mainly is, and Kelsey helps us all attain this through her unique perspective. Kelsey may be sensible, a leader, and positive, but she still has flaws and is more than willing to admit to them. Her temperament is stubborn and she is acutely aware of this, explaining her bickering with her mother as the two headstrong forces hit a constant wall, never exactly finding agreement. She also knows that though she focuses on staying positive, it is not always as easy as she would like it to be.
In relation to the “Story of the Chinese Farmer,” she does believe that there is no direct way of knowing how a n can come to be, although some situations are too hard to ignore whether they are positive or negative. Her characteristics, capability of admitting her flaws, and view on the thought provoking story contribute to her score on Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. While I am not certain of what her exact score could be, I am confident that Kelsey would rank within the post conventional stages.
Kohlberg defines the post conventional stages: “[… is marked by a growing realization that individuals are separate entities from society, and that the individual’s own perspective may take precedence over society’s view; individuals may disobey rules inconsistent with their own (Kohlberg). She embodies the true morality that is represented in these stages. The person she is at this exact moment holds the ethics and mindset that others spend lifetimes attempting to achieve. Kelsey has no cruel judgments towards others, and no tolerance for those that do. She spends no time worrying about what others think of her, but more time worrying about the lives of others.
These are the reasons she belongs within the post conventional stages. Boring, white walls and blurry faces surround the girl who is so unlike the uniform barriers that border the room. Everyone can recognize her, for her avid participation has inspired others to take part in class discussions as well. Her positive personality awakens the students stuck in a reverie, preparing them to learn about the endless possibilities we explore. We have all come to know her beyond the name tag with a neatly, handwritten “Kelsey,” printed on it that sits in front of her every class. Kelsey Picciano is an indispensable contributor to our class.