By: Zahra Nabavi

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Helen Keller couldn’t remember the warm, golden rays of the sun or the clear, the cool streams of water. She couldn’t remember the wavy, wonderfully green grass or the shadow of huge trees and the smile of beautiful flowers. Worst of all, Helen couldn’t understand and could not be understood, so when Anne Sullivan taught her signs in American Sign Language, Helen finally realized what signals meant what words. Her dark and lonely world was shattered and she entered into the world around her, a world of color, happiness, light, and life. Helen was going to be understood. She wouldn’t start temper tantrums and wouldn’t behave poorly anymore because Helen could communicate with others now. She could actually feel and know what the things around her were. Helen could finally make meaning of the world outside hers. Better yet, since Helen could start truly learning, she would be determined to even learn more. She would not yield yet. This was only the start of a tremendous journey. This would lead to Helen finding goals and striving to achieve them.

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Helen Keller wasn’t born blind and deaf. Helen became ill with a very high fever at 19 months. Her fever went away, but left her forever affected. She had become blind and deaf. Others couldn’t understand her for she did not know how to communicate with the outside world. As a result, Helen would throw temper tantrums frequently. Mr. and Mrs. Keller were worried about their innocent child and wanted to help her, so they contacted Alexander Graham Bell, who was a specialist on the deaf. He introduced the Kellers to the Perkins School for the Blind. From there, the Kellers met Anne Sullivan who arrived at the Keller’s house and started teaching right away. Because of her illness, Helen met Anne and she guided Helen down the road to perseverance and, eventually, triumph.
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Helen Keller’s life changed tremendously from before meeting Anne Sullivan to after meeting her. To begin with, before meeting Anne, Helen could not express her emotions, therefore she would throw severe temper tantrums and would not behave appropriately. However, after Anne, Helen became a young lady with wonderful manners and exceptional etiquette. Another example is that before Sullivan, the ability to understand did not exist in relations with Helen. Nevertheless, after Sullivan, Helen would give lectures and everyone would comprehend. Another difference between Helen’s before and after life is that Helen had no way of communication, but after “Teacher”, Helen was motivated to learn ASL, Braille, English, French, and German, which she did. The most important difference is that before Anne, Helen felt empty and had no reason to move on, therefore she wouldn’t care about anything. On the other hand, after Anne, Helen was inspired and felt the need for knowledge. Even though she learned everyday, she felt that it was inadequate and she needed more. Although the life before and after Sullivan had differences, there were some things that did not change. Helen was still blind and deaf. She would hear nothing but her own thoughts, and she would see nothing but her own imaginations. Also, both before and after, Helen would remain the eldest daughter of the Keller family, the daughter of a Confederate officer. There were both similarities and differences between Helen Keller’s life before and after Anne Sullivan.
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Some people persevere while others are unsuccessful because the people who persevered had a goal to reach. Their goal was really important to them. For example, Helen Keller's goal was to be able to be interactive like others. She couldn't do that because she was both deaf and blind before she could develop cognitive skills. Even though this was true, she turned out to become one of the most active lecturer. For some people, their goal isn't of much importance to them. Also, another factor of why some people persevere while others don't is confidence. No matter what others tell you, you have to be able to go on. For instance, Helen was told that she would never succeed. Others thought that she should be put into an asylum, which is an institution offering support to those who are mentally ill. However, Helen proved all those people wrong by continuing on her road.


We can learn from the perseverance of others to help us overcome out own adversities in today's world by taking example from them. Taking example means looking out how the person went on despite all the opposition that was being held against him/her. In Helen Keller's case, we can look at how she went on without thinking twice about what others might say. This is why she was a big topic to talk about; people hadn't seen situations like this before. If we try and make an attempt at our goals, then we can do great things, just like Helen did.