I am thankful

I am thankful for Thanksgiving. Once every year, I get this chance to reflect on all that is good in my life. This year, my list is long.

I am thankful for the computer I am using to type these words. I use my computer almost all day every day. Along with the internet, it is perhaps my most essential educational tool. It plays a key role in my social interactions. It serves as my primary entertainment portal. It’s hard for me to imagine life without a computer, and yet only around 14 percent of the world’s population has access to a computer, and only around five to 10 percent has access to the internet.

I am thankful for my education. Some days I hate being in college. I hate that I have to read another article when I’m already tired, or that I have to stay up all night to write a paper that I didn’t start early enough. I don’t always remember that billions of adults worldwide have never completed high school. Even more, experts estimate that only one to six percent of the world’s adults have graduated from college. The fact that I not only got to continue my studies after high school, but that I never had to worry about whether or not I would be able to go to college is a real blessing.

I am thankful that I never have to worry about access to food and clean water. I eat until I am full, without worrying that someone else in my family will not eat because of it. An estimated 925 million people, nearly seven times the population of Fargo and Moorhead combined, are hungry. Each day, around 16,000 children die of hunger-related causes.

Every day, I take advantage of the clean water available to me by taking showers, flushing the toilet, washing fruits and vegetables, brushing my teeth, rinsing dishes. Even after all of that, I have more than enough left over to drink. Sometimes it seems as though water is just everywhere. It’s not. Around the world, one in eight people doesn’t have access even to a minimal amount of clean water.

I am thankful for my home. I sometimes joke with my friends that I no longer have a home now that I have finally moved my stuff out of my old room in my parents’ house. It’s just a joke because I have always had a place to sleep, whether it was in a different room of my parents’ house, in my dorm room or in my apartment here in D.C. In the United States alone, around five million people are living with homelessness. Globally, 100 million people have no place to sleep at night, and at least another 600 million live in shelters deemed either life threatening or health threatening by the United Nations. My no longer having a room at my parents’ house cannot compare.

I am thankful for my good health and the good health of my family. Around 300 million people are affected by malaria. Nearly a million die from it each day. Well over 30 million worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS. As many as five million people are affected by cholera. Millions upon millions more have been indirectly affected by these diseases and others as they rapidly claim lives and livelihoods. By virtue of the conditions into which I was born, my risk of getting any of those diseases is so low that I don’t have to be concerned.

As a college student, it is easy to get wrapped up in myself and forget to see the bigger picture. I complain about a lot of things in life: school is too stressful, work is too boring, tennis practice is too long, and weekends are too short. Although I do my best to always remember and appreciate how fortunate I am, sometimes I forget. I’m thankful that Thanksgiving is here to remind me.

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