Give It One More Shot!
Do you have a dream — a burning desire or goal you wish to achieve?
When I was 18, I had such a dream. My dream was to attend Ambassador College (AC), the very best college of its kind in the United States.
I'll never forget the excitement I felt the day I received my letter of acceptance. I was given a regional scholarship! It was like winning a million dollars in a sweepstake!
Little did I know what was to befall me within 12 weeks: three nightmares — three humongous, pitch-black monsters — that would threaten to snuff my dream from existence.
After all, I'm from the Philippines — a third-world country. Distance was a problem, money was a big problem, immigration was a big, big problem.
To leave the Philippines, I had to obtain a student visa from the United States Consulate. Only three chances for a visa interview is allowed at any one time. If my applications are turned down thrice, I wouldn’t be able to leave, no matter how much I wanted to go.
Since the Consulate is in another city, in another island, my trip would start the day before the interview. I would leave home in the morning, and arrive there at about sundown. I would spend the night at a friend’s house, be up at five, rush to the Consulate before six, and find about a dozen people ahead of me in the line.
For the next three and a half hours, I would plan, hope and pray for a positive outcome. The seconds become minutes, the minutes become hours.
Finally, 9:32 a.m., June 24th, 1992. A voice cracks: “Number 16 to window two please.” With my documents ready, I get up, say a silent prayer, and walk to the window. Pulse: About 120. Blood pressure: 200/130.
The curtains close — and open. I walk out of the Consulate. Reaching the door, I noticed that the sun seemed to be sliding behind the dark clouds.
The outcome I feared most had happened. I was turned down. But never did I realize that this same horror video was to be played back before my very eyes a couple more times: 22 days later, and again, 11 days after that.
My visa applications had been rejected — not once, not twice, but three times. After the first rejection, I was disappointed, but I was hopeful — I had two more chances. After the second rejection, I was upset, but still hopeful — one more chance. But after the final rejection, I was hopeless — no more chance. I said to myself: “That’s it, I’ve had it, AC is not for me.”
Family and friends knew I wasn’t coming. Friends called to encourage me. My parents tried to comfort me. And I thanked them for their concern.
But deep inside, my dream wouldn’t want to die.
Many a night I would lie on my bed and gaze at the wall, trying, vainly, to still capture and paint my beautiful, colorful, but dying dream out of the cold, bleak blackness of rejection, despair, and discouragement.
I wanted to let go, but I still wanted to hold on. I was torn between reality and possibility.
In my ear Reality shouted, “Don’t waste your time kid, AC is unrealistic! Haven’t I proven it to you three times already?”
“Shut up!” Possibility interrupted. “When proof is possible, faith is impossible. Go, Danny, give it ONE MORE SHOT!”
One more shot?
I knew that the chances of the three decisions being reversed were next to impossible. They were like layers of steel and concrete reinforcing each other. But at that point, I had nothing to lose. So I wrote a short but forceful letter of appeal to the Consul General and sent it to the Embassy.
Days passed, and not a word from the Embassy. I said this is it. I have failed, but I was happy I was brave enough to try. That night, in utter desperation, I pleaded with God saying, “If it be possible, let not this cup pass from me — please don’t let my little dream die,” I begged, as my pillow received about five millimeters of rain.
As I was having breakfast the next morning, I got a long-distance phone call. The secretary from the Embassy asked me when I could come for a special interview with the Chief of the Non-Immigrant Visa Section.
Wow! Either she’s got the wrong number or I’m insane, I thought for a moment. But confident that she was not kidding and I was not yet insane — I finally said, “Monday morning at nine.”
The curtains close — and open. I walk out of the Embassy with passport in hand. Turning to the last page, I read: “United States of America, visa, issued August 10th, 1992, Manila, Philippines.” Reaching the door, I noticed that the sun seemed to be coming out from behind the clouds...
Speech Banquet (February 1993)
Ambassador College (AC), Big Sandy, Texas
... My dream, with God’s help, has just become a reality. Mind you, I have come just this close to “throwing in the towel.” Frankly, I never thought I would be able to come here, let alone speak before you tonight. But in the midst of what I reckon to be the darkest chapter in my life, I heard a faint voice, urging me to persist — to give my dream of coming to Ambassador College ONE MORE SHOT.
Looking back, I think it was well worth the effort, and the trouble, for here, on the other side of the globe, I have met some of the most encouraging — not to mention, beautiful and talented — people in the world.
Dear students, faculty, and guests: When the path to your goal is blocked from seemingly all directions; when your dreams suddenly transform into ugly nightmares; when you aim for victory but achieve defeat; when you ask and do not receive; when you seek and do not find; when you knock, and the door has not been opened; yes, when you try, and try, and don’t succeed — persist, knowing that it is often the last key in the ring that opens the door...
Bounce back after every defeat, after every rejection...
Give it ONE MORE SHOT, before you bury your dream!
Note: With only very minor tweaks, this article is the exact speech I gave as one of the six finalists selected for “Speech Banquet 1993” — a formal dinner/speaking event held at our school that year. Talk about another blessing in disguise. Your mess can be your message!