Travel creates opportunities for new experiences and learning


The Earth is made up of over 7 billion people. Life is constantly moving around us, a flow of experiences, moments, and difficult decisions that continues to move through everyone single one of us, the first cries of a newborn are heard alongside the muffled cries of a grieving loved one.  The world isn’t black and white, it isn’t simple. Traveling around the globe has brought me these realizations that have shaped me into the person I am today. 

Every year my family saved money to take a trip to a foreign country, so I’ve had the opportunity to experience various different cultures spanning North America, Europe, and Asia. Each trip has been an eye-opener, instilling in me an awareness that the world is larger than the small community of Oviedo, extends past the rigid popularity hierarchy of high school. My mom made it a point to not call it a vacation, traveling became a hands-on learning experience in the real world. 

My first major trip was to my parents’ home town, a small bustling city of Coimbatore, India. As a 10-year-old, I recall my focus to be on the colorful shops lining the dirt roads and the delightful smell of freshly fried vegetables. Walking alongside a shopping complex, a small girl approached my father and I, hair in disarray. Her grimy clothing hung off her scrawny figure, her bony fingers tugged at my dad’s shirt, her other hand holding up a cheap packet of stickers. A girl, my age, trying to sell stickers on the side of a filthy street. How could a world that has treated me so well, have given me such privileges, be so cruel to another human being? This could have easily been me in flimsy shoes of that young girl. After seeing that young girl, at the mere age of 10, I began to understand the complexity of the real world. You aren’t defined just by your circumstances, it is how you handle those situations, either succumbing to external pressures or trying work with what you have. 

Other trips opened me up to the various cultures that exist around the world. A trip to Japan exposed me to the hard work ethic and the deep traditions that were ingrained in their way of life, a blend of ancient religion and modern advances. Humbleness and respect was the lifeline that connected every individual, building and learning from each other’s experiences pushed them further than they would have separately. After that trip, I try every day to exhibit those qualities, working my hardest to be humble and respect others in school and soccer.

 A summer in Scandanavia showed me that equality is an important factor in society. I vividly remember walking through the town of Oslo and people, no matter the rush they were in, stopped to hold the door open to the people behind them, offered to give directions to lost tourists, and never failed to say “Thank you” and “Please”. I aspire to attain that level of kindness and inclusivity, to help those around me in need. I realize through meeting many individuals with different backgrounds, that everyone has something they are battling. We cannot judge a person for where they are because we are in the dark about what they have battled against. 

I have learned that even if there miles of ocean, land, and space separating us, we are all on this planet together. Connected by the very air we breathe, we need to be there for each other, no matter our social status, race, or age. The world is an extremely complex place, each and everyone holding the torch through the darkness, trying to make sense of the world. But if we support one another, allow our experiences and diversity fuel our minds, we can lighten the world around us to a brighter future. I hope to continue applying these lessons that I have learned to my everyday life, to better support those individuals around me, to truly understand that the world is bigger than I am, but I can still make a significant impact to those around me.