Introduction

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Create Your Best Future

Introduction

Life is a journey where you build on experiences within your family, community, and the world at large. We access information and ideas through schooling and other extracurricular activities, including sports, music, arts as well as various types of entertainment, such as radio, TV, movies, and the Internet. Finding part-time or summer jobs helps us learn to interact with strangers, develop business skills, and achieve some financial independence that will help us plan for our future.

My father, who came from Poland, and my mother, who came from Russia, immigrated to Canada in the early 1920s. I was one of five children born and raised in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. My parents had limited formal education, and my siblings and I witnessed the hardships our family and others endured during those difficult times. Providing a good education for their children was extremely important to our parents. They could not help us with our scholastic studies, but they taught us to be honest, respectful, caring, and kind to others. We were extremely fortunate to have excellent, dedicated teachers in the local schools. With our parents’ ability to provide the direction we needed, and sufficient financial support to further our education, all five siblings graduated from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia: three physicians (all ophthalmologists), one dentist, and one schoolteacher.

Ideally, all children need a strong family unit with two parents and/or grandparents, who can play a significant role if they are allowed to do so. Good schools and good teachers are extremely important, and friends may have a positive effect, too. But they can have a negative effect if they influence others to use alcohol and drugs. Technology has added new hazards for children and adults alike, when texting on cell phones while driving can lead to tragedy and death. Individuals targeted by bullies not only in our school hallways, but in cyberspace, have committed suicide. Video game addiction, both in children and adults, has ruined families financially and destroyed the lives of teenagers and young adults who otherwise had a promising future.

I hope that the stories in this second book, for teenagers and young adults, will help the readers make the right decisions toward a healthy, productive, and fulfilling life. Tragedies may happen or be avoided because of fate. Those we cannot change. In my practice as an ophthalmologist, I have seen many such cases. I recall, in particular, treating a ten-year-old boy who happened to be riding a bike, and while riding sustained an injury to his only good eye when a firecracker exploded just as he was passing by. He happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I continue to see this patient forty-five years later, and even though he is gainfully employed, I often think how his life could have been so different if his encounter had been one or two seconds earlier or later. This type of tragedy we chalk up to fate, but there are many tragedies that can be avoided by living right and making good decisions. I hope that the stories in this book help with those decisions.

Reading Chicken Soup for the Soul stories has been uplifting for me, and reading them allows me to relax and sleep peacefully when I realize how lucky I am compared to others who have had such difficult times. I hope you and your family members enjoy reading these stories, and I am confident that exposure to these stories and the lessons contained within them will help us all become part of a more tolerant, respectful, caring, and passionate society.

My wife Laurie and I have been very fortunate to have accumulated a large estate by investments, primarily in real estate. Approximately twenty years ago, we decided to contribute one-half of our estate to charity. We are both excited about having the opportunity to use these funds to implement programs developed at The Boniuk Institute at Rice University and The Boniuk Foundation. These programs include education of our children, parenting programs, and the promotion of religious tolerance.

I am very grateful to Bill Rouhana, CEO, and Amy Newmark, Publisher, of Chicken Soup for the Soul, for allowing us to develop these educational programs with them. Bill and Amy share our commitment and dedication to these projects.

I would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following individuals who helped select the stories for inclusion in this book: my wife Laurie, my son David Boniuk and his wife Kelli, my grandsons Justin Sable and Ryan Sable, Yan Digilov, Dr. Silvia Orengo-Nania and her daughter Julia Nania, her nieces Anna Hanel and Marisa Rao, Lee Pelton, a freshman at Rice University, and Gaby Barrios, Natalie Danckers, and Anjale Raghuran, all juniors at Rice University.

I would also like to thank David Leebron, president of Rice University for his continued support. I also thank the following members of the advisory board of The Boniuk Institute at Rice University for their unwavering support: Charley Landgraf, member of the board of trustees and current chairman of the advisory board; Malcolm Gillis, former president of Rice; and Bill Barnett and James Crownover, former chairmen of the board at Rice University.

~Dr. Milton Boniuk

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