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Tony Powell Professor Matlock English 1301 21 Mar 2012 Little Miss Sunshine Most of us grew up in life with parents to watch over us and show us love and guidance. Many children, perhaps out of blissful ignorance, think parents appertain to childhood. Unfortunately for a small minority of children in East Russia, this is not true. These children, sometimes abandoned shortly after birth, are immediately placed into a system that promotes conformity, complete with guidelines to help manage their lives in the absence of their parents. However sometimes, with a little luck and perseverance, these young children can find new parents willing to give them the family and childhood that they so eagerly want and deserve. Through my many years as an employee at Green Acres Orphanage, one rutilant child stands vividly in my memories as a tale of triumph and persistence. Her name is Elizabeth Sunshine. When Elizabeth was just three years old, she would incessantly watch the movie, “Annie”, and would joyously sing to the well known song, “The sun will come out”. She would always mimic the sunrays with her blonde hair and hands; then she would hold a starry gaze for a long while after the song concluded. So propelled by the idea of the sun and its associated happiness, Elizabeth declared that her last name was Sunshine. We hadn’t registered a last name for her as yet, so my supervisor agreed to the suggestion, and Elizabeth officially became Elizabeth Sunshine. She was thrilled! Being the convivial extrovert she was, that very moment she made it her mission that every child in the orphanage knew her last name. Elizabeth faced adversity with a glaring determination rarely seen, even in adults. The first time I explained to her that she did not have the traditional nuclear family or a mommy to care for her, she cast her eyes to the side for a second, furrowed her eyebrows, looked up and said, “Well just because I don’t have something, doesn’t mean I can’t find it.” I was taken aback by this mature response, as every other child to whom I have broken the news to cried heavily, or simply did not

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understand. Then she said, “If my mommy and daddy don’t want me, then what can I do to find some who will?” I thought hard for a moment and replied, “All you can do is be the best little girl you can be and try to be different than everyone else.” Without hesitation, she turned around, surveyed the room, and briskly walked away. She started pushing in chairs, putting crayons away, even frivolously attempted to sweep the floor with a full sized broom in one hand, and a dust pan in the other - she just turned four years old. I praised her for her efforts and from that day on, she had an enduring spring in her step and never looked backed. Everything to her was brighter and deserving of respect and attention, even when no one else agreed. A prime example is the lack of culinary expertise here at Green Acres Orphanage in Nakhodka, Russia. It is visibly evident that the food is underwhelming from any perspective. However Elizabeth would argue that Tuesday’s Salisbury steak is the coup de gras of all Salisbury steaks in Russia. Her glass was always half full; she embraced change and kept looking forward. Elizabeth did not saunter or mope; she skipped and laughed. When Elizabeth turned six, she was tall enough for her arms to reach a majority of the keys on the piano we had in the main foyer area. For months, she tried to no avail to decipher the piano and play something akin to what she had heard on TV. Undaunted by inexperience, lack of skills, and no coaching, Elizabeth consumed hours a day trying different key combinations. One day, an electrical repair man came in to fix the lights and everything radically changed. The man glanced over many times as he was working, watching the girl and how she was struggling on the piano. As he left, he approached me and revealed that his mother was a retired piano teacher, and lived just blocks away. He said she would probably be willing to give lessons for free just because she misses teaching so much. I promptly agreed and gave him my full endorsement. When Elizabeth was just six years old, she began to receive piano lessons three times a week. She was vehemently passionate in her desire to play the piano proficiently; she practiced countless hours and perfected each prior lesson before her next period of instruction. When she rested her hands and took a break, she focused her efforts on something else, usually singing to the stereo (which we made her practice outside). By the time Elizabeth turned eleven years old, her musical and singing skills

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were amazingly profluent. She glided over the piano keys as she sang songs, which we gladly let her sing inside now. She adored Mozart and his concertos and inundated us with her precocious super talent until we had no choice but to surrender our eyelids to full musical concentration and relax. Her voice was graceful, easy on the ears, and the staff thoroughly enjoyed her performances. One dreary, rainy Friday afternoon, Elizabeth announced that she would be holding a performance shortly. A school circle lazily formed around the piano as Elizabeth settled in. As she began the song, I noticed the door to the main foyer close. A formidable, middle aged lady in designer clothes, elegant shoes, and jewelry on nearly every appendage stood there, curiously gazing upon Elizabeth. Clearly this woman was of stately dignity, possibly a dowager from one of the larger cities in East Russia. Throughout the performance, the lady was astounded at the child’s ability to play the piano and gave Elizabeth a glowing applause at the end. The lady came directly over to me and told of her desire for a child. Her husband and sister passed away leaving no chance of a child or grandchildren in her life. I was so ecstatic, for a brief moment, I could barely conjugate a verb in response. The last person to adopt an orphan was over five years ago! The lady, Mrs.Gorachek, showed sincere interest in Elizabeth and requested an introduction. Just as soon as they made each other’s acquaintance, Elizabeth decisively led Mrs.Gorachek around the orphanage, demonstrating to her all the talents she had taught herself over the years. I even heard Mrs.Gorachek say to Elizabeth, “You are the most unique little girl I have ever met!” To which Elizabeth responded, “What does unique mean?” Mrs.Gorachek replied, “It means different, in a special way.” A huge smile stretched across Elizabeth’s face as she gave Mrs.Gorachek an embracing hug. Mrs.Gorachek and Elizabeth began an inspiring, long lasting emotional connection that afternoon. I had a few parting words with Mrs.Gorachek as we filled out necessary paper work for the adoption. She was going to enroll Elizabeth in a prestigious musical school in an upscale suburban area to further her education and musical talents. It was such a bittersweet moment for the staff and me. As Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” We had grown to love spunky Elizabeth as one of our own children. Mrs.Gorachek insured us that she would send pictures every month of Elizabeth so we

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could see her change over the years. Elizabeth promised us that she would write us a letter on the back of each photo as well, detailing every facet of her new and exciting life. I cried as Elizabeth walked out the door with her new mother, already thinking what she would look like in the first picture to come. Elizabeth was destined for greatness since she was born; all it took was a nudge in the right direction. Initially, Elizabeth was motivated by the idea of finding herself parents to love and care for her. As time wore on, her diligence, benevolence, and affluent personality blossomed and became instilled in her core, absent of selfish desires. Not every child in our orphanage gets a chance at adoption. Elizabeth was not every child.

Moral Make the best out of your situation and keep a positive attitude. Elizabeth embraced change at the orphanage, and made a life of her own and did the best with what she had. She found ways to succeed on her own in a lackluster environment without traditional parenting. Elizabeth came from nothing, made herself into something, and is now rising above to greater opportunities and choices. If you are truly stuck in life, and an opportunity presents itself, work at it; work at it very hard. One day you might just rise up, and start to get traction again. Many times in life, unbeknownst to us, opportunity passes us by. Through hard work, and continual determination, we can capitalize on potential opportunities to become successful.

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