This I Believe

Sarah - Conway, Arkansas
Entered on November 21, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that having an open mind to new customs and situations in life is crucial. In my life, I would not be who I am today if it had not been for the opportunities I had to experience life in other cultures. These experiences were important because I was able to step out of my cultural box and experience new ways of life first hand without trying to put an American touch on them.

I had the opportunity to spend a month living with a family in San Ignacio, Belize. I was afraid that they would not speak English and it would be hard to communicate. They spoke English, but a new challenge I found was adjusting to the poverty level. It was quite a shock moving into a new home in Central America in the middle of summer and learning that they do not have air conditioning. What I thought would be another challenge soon turned into a blessing when I learned that they did not have hot water either. The cold showers during the heat of the day soon became my favorite activity. After a few days of constant sweating, I realized that it was just a part of their life and I would have to learn to love it if I was going to enjoy my stay there. Since there was no TV as well, in the evenings I took to helping around the house, or meeting new friends I had made in the city. There was one bar in town that had the equipment to play movies, so we would try to go once a week and see one of the outdated movies they owned. Something like that would have bored me at home, but here I found it exciting. Before my stay was over, I saw that although the community may not have had a financial surplus or much technology to speak of, they were very blessed in other ways. I was able to do without TV, shopping, fine dining, and even riding places in cars, and I was as satisfied with my life as I am here where I can do all of those things. Being able to step out of that American mind set of having an excess of everything, and just being able to enjoy what life had given me was a wonderful experience.