Humans of DC: First Years

male student standing in the gym holding a basketball

“People often say that the neighbourhood you grew up in says a lot about who you are. Personally, I wouldn’t give myself a title that relates to where I am from; I think it’s a delusion to think that just because you’re from a certain place you’re going to be a stereotype of that place. My life so far has been far from stereotypical: I’ve lived in 13 foster care homes and 4 orphanages, and I was even homeless for almost a year. Where I’m from doesn’t identify who I am. ” (1/4)

male student sitting alone in the hallway with other students walking by

“I only attended high school for a short period of time, the main reason being that I started working when I was eight years old and work was a priority in my life. My brother and I would work at this Asian bakery across the street and because no one that I knew from my neighbourhood had ever made it past high school, people would look at me carrying books and say things like, “You’re stupid, where is that going to get you?” But whenever I saw a book I had the urge to pick it up and read it. My friends were interested in selling substances but I was always interested in learning.” (2/4)

male student sitting in library


“When I was 4 years old I would fight outside for money. My older brother bet on me in street fights with neighbourhood kids. He was my coach and my manager and I was his income, but it was never a choice for me: I had no one else but him. I craved love from him so I continued to fight even when I got beaten up. When I was 7, a coach named Terry saw me outside fighting and asked if I wanted to box. I had nothing going for me in life so I said yeah, and I turned to boxing. One thing led to another and I started doing actual competitions. My brother wasn’t happy about that, but I would go to the boxing club and the people there would take care of me, like I was somebody’s son. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. The thing about my brother was I’d never see him unless he needed something from me. It was different at the boxing club, I felt like people really cared for me and were not just using me for money like my brother did. They were more family than he was.” (3/4)

male student sitting in cafeteria, looking at his phone

“My goals keep me motivated. Years ago I bought a fake $1,000,000 dollar bill and I signed it. That became my goal: to make a million dollars before the age of 23. I also decided that every time I reached a milestone in my life I would buy a watch to commemorate it, so when I got to high school, I bought myself a watch, and when I graduated from high school, I bought another watch. Time means a lot to me.” (4/4)

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