To see Mariah’s winning video about her study abroad in Jerusalem, click here or click on the screen at the end of the article.

I’m in the thick of the struggle to scrape together the funding to travel 7,881 miles to participate in an international development internship in the heart of Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. When I look at the total cost that I need and realize not only is no one else going to front this bill, but I’ll probably need even more than that, considering the additional production costs of the documentary I will be working on, I think to myself, maybe I should intern at the Provo City Library instead for the summer.’ It’d be quieter, easier, not nearly as emotionally taxing, and, oh yeah, cheaper.

But the section of my brain that takes care that the things that I do are both adventurous and relevant said no,’ so Siam it is. That section of my brain is a little bit ignorant about all things financial, but desperation is the mother of creativity, and I’m getting pretty creative with accruing the monies. Oh and don’t worry, I haven’t yet had to resort to bank robbery, gun running, or black market human organ dealing—but there’s still time.

As it stands now, when I say creativity,’ that’s actually what I mean. With a little detective work, I’ve found that there are any number of creative competitions (with cash prizes) going on at BYU at any one time, and so few people hear about/get involved in them that your chances are actually pretty good. I saw that the Global Citizens for Study Abroad were having a “Y Study Abroad” short film competition (they just never get sick of that Y/why pun), so, I put something together and entered it on a whim.

By odd coincidence my parents were in town for the banquet where they were going to announce the winners. The invitation said “please plan to attend and invite all of your fans.” I can’t think of two bigger fans of mine then my Mama y Papa, so I brought them along. They started the evening by saying that they were going to show some of the videos and after about the fifth or sixth one, they turned on the lights and said “OK, now we’ll announce the winners.”

I was a little bit mortified as the girl went to get what I assumed would be the envelope, please.’ Not only was I apparently not going to be a winner, but my video wasn’t even good enough to show as an example of the kind of entries they got. I guess I didn’t put it together in my head, that they’d announce the winners by showing their films.

Now stop that incessant applause and sit back down, I didn’t win it all. But I was still thrilled and surprised to get 2nd place in the competition and $250 closer to my potential Chiang Mai home. I was honored to even place, but I must say that 2nd place seems to be my lot in life. I got 2nd place in the writing category of the reflections contest in second grade. I got 2nd place in the only countywide theatre sports competition I ever participated in, and if those Cappie Awards (Theatre Awards for High Schools in the DC Metro Area) ranked rather than just having nominees and a winner, I’d probably have gotten second place there too.

My Mom always told me, because her Mom always told her, that the winner of the race always knew he would be,’ and to this day I believe that it’s true. It’s not about coming in first.  Instead, it’s a call to act with boldness and confidence, instead of apathy and timidity.  It’s a call to invest your heart and soul into something, instead of deciding that things would never work out for you.

I guess I just consistently only sometimes thought that I could be a winner. Please read the following knowing that the video that won absolutely deserved it, and I’m not just saying that. It had beautiful cinematography and a very simple and penetrating way to illustrate the people and culture of Mozambique.

But I was hesitant even to invite my parents to come to the banquet, not because I didn’t want them there, but because I didn’t want to look too earnest to all of the other people there, bringing my parents and then losing. Why do I doubt myself? Sometimes people lose (including myself, I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve lost), but that’s ok. People who know they are winners don’t change the results by the power of positive thinking.  They make everything about them worthy of 1st place and then take what comes with joy, knowing they have tried to do their best.  

The same night that I won the big 2-5-0, I got home and found that I’d also received a full ride scholarship for Spring/Summer, so I, at least, won’t have to pay tuition in Thailand. Suddenly succeeding twice has made me realize, that I really can do this. I’m changing my thought process and bolstering my entries so that when I win this race to get to Thailand, I can say that I always knew that I would be.

Launch pad to Number 1.  Here is my video.