It is a month before the end of eleventh grade and my English teacher drops a five to six page research paper on the class. The topic of this research paper needed to be on one of the problems people face in America in todays society. At the time, I wanted nothing more than to go to the beach and be out of school for the summer. Therefore, I was anything but enthusiastic about this project. Each individual in the class was to pick the topic of his or her research paper out of a basket.
Lucky for me, I was given a topic that was very broad and allowed me to write about many different ideas. My research topic was Homelessness.
People often have certain views of homelessness because of how or where they are brought up. In order to portray an accurate report, it was necessary that I disregard these inaccurate claims from my report. I needed to search for factual information or theories that are backed up by statistics or personal experiences. This report required a great amount of work and attention.
The first step of the project was to gather general ideas to become more knowledgeable about the topic. I went to the library and gathered facts from various books dealing with homelessness. The books were somewhat helpful, but they were unable to give me accurate statistics due to the fact that the books were written many
years back. Therefore, I looked at articles that were dated recently in order to get my needed information. At this point, I had note card after note card of information, but something was still lacking.
I needed to connect with my topic on a more personal level so my paper could be written with compassion and feeling.
Therefore, I drove down to Center City, Philadelphia to get a first-hand idea what homeless life is really like. It took a lot of guts to walk over to homeless individuals and ask them if they would agree to an interview. To my surprise, many of them were more than willing to do so. I asked them many questions about their lifestyle and how they came to be that way. I never realized how kind and unfortunate homeless people are. Until then, I always believed that homeless people were all drug addicts that were too lazy to get a job.
These are the horrible and often wrong ideas that are placed on society. I realized many people often try so hard to get well-paying jobs and make a good life for themselves. Even though there are many homeless people in America today, the number remains a minority. Because of this, homeless people are often neglected and not given a fair chance.
There was one homeless woman that stood out in my mind. I felt such sympathy and compassion for her situation.
She was escaping an abusive relationship with her boyfriend and felt she may die unless she subjected herself to the streets. She saw no other way out. This woman had no family to turn to. Because she had been in this abusive relationship for so long, she had depended on him to support her. She left with nothing, hoping he would not track her down. She had only been homeless for a few
months now and was trying to better her life.
This woman gave me the knowledge to write my paper with the necessary outlook on homelessness.
This writing experience taught me more than I ever thought possible. It enabled me to appreciate everything I am given in life and never to take that for granite. I never until then realized how lucky I am to be brought up in such a loving and sheltered environment, free from poverty and crime. I also became more aware of the lifestyles in which others live and how different they are from my own. The worldliness this writing experience provided me with will most likely help me interact with all different kinds of individuals.
In addition, I now truly understand the saying, Never judge a book by its cover; preconceived notions can only make a person more nave and ignorant to differences. It is necessary to .