Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
It was finally my turn for Show-and-Tell.
I patted my pocket, checking on my prized possession. Looking to the crowd, I counted thirteen preschoolers and one teacher—full attendance, as I had hoped; everyone needed to see this.
Eagerly, I rushed to the front and removed my friend from the ziplock bag in my pocket.
“Hi everyone, this is my new bir-,” I managed to say before all hell broke loose.
“RYAN, YOU CANNOT BRING DEAD ANIMALS TO SCHOOL!”
I remember finding him on the street outside my apartment. I had seen birds before, but he was the first with a broken neck. Intrigued and inspired, I knew I had to share my discovery in class.
As my classmates screamed in hysteria, I realized it may have been a mistake.
Yet, the response excited me. I imagine I looked bizarre, slowly smiling as madness overtook the room—but I couldn’t help it. In that moment, amidst the cries of my classmates, I felt like the loudest person in the world. Never before had I seen a group of people so moved—and from my doing. At the age of four, I fell in love with Show- and-Tell.
Besides the bird, I found myself that day. The experience has grown from a simple memory to a lifelong mission. It is the same conviction that told Homer’s epics, gave MLK’s speeches, painted Dali’s works, shot Kubrick’s films: the aspiration to use one’s vision and voice to impact others.
This spirit takes me to the stage, pushing me to show through public speaking. Recognizing the political unawareness in my community, I sought to combat the problem head-on. Recognized as a skilled orator, I landed an opportunity to speak at Naperville’s Memorial Day Parade. There, I directly addressed the city about the need for civic education. Under the gaze of thousands, I felt right at home, promoting change by sharing my message.
My voice is not limited to spoken words, however. With my camera, I forage through the depths of my mind and express it all through photography. I do not intend to make my pieces pretty, only impactful. While my art has received awards, I find far greater satisfaction in seeing my audience’s reactions. At art shows, I sneak around, peeking through display panels to catch every double-take, shocked expression, and thoughtful stare—the signs of my ideas swaying theirs.
Film, too, is another way to share. Last summer, while taking classes in Seoul, I encountered a fascinating street performer—a drug dealer turned Christian evangelist, he had devoted his life to praising Jesus on the streets. Inspired, I took the initiative to film a documentary about him. After weeks of researching, interviewing, shooting, and editing, I finished a project I found worth sharing online. The acceptance into film festivals was rewarding, but I was prouder knowing that, like in preschool, I had found and shown the world a meaningful story.
I take on education with the same spirit. For me, all learning is research for my next exhibit—my next Show-and- Tell. As I study statistics, Veristic sculpture, or Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions, I quickly see their potential applications. Outside of school, I eagerly attend film festivals, art galleries, and TEDx events, searching for both the subjects and techniques for my next productions. Knowing my education will someday affect others, I am constantly motivated to learn.
I lost the bird long ago, but Show-and-Tell has stayed with me for years—guiding my studies, leading my actions, giving me purpose. The contents and methods of my presentations have expanded, but the same goals remain. Be it in class, within myself, or on the streets, I look to discover. Be it with words, cameras, or bird carcasses, I strive to share. Be it as shock, inspiration, or screams, I aim to impact.
Every day, I look for dead birds—ideas worth sharing with the world. And when I find them, I Show-and-Tell.
(c) RYAN “ARPI” PARK. All Rights Reserved.