I Believe in the World.
In the beginning of the school year one of my teachers made an announcement during assembly to tell us about an opportunity for students to take part in a mission trip to Sierra Leone in the summer. It wasn’t uncommon for a service opportunity to present itself during assembly, however it was uncommon for me to pay attention. I always resented the people that went on those trips and came back preaching about how they have become better people after spending two weeks in a tent, so of course my pessimistic reaction kicked in as soon as I heard the word Africa.
He showed us images of the village and all of the many faces; the smiling baby with a mal-nourished stomach, the laughing children playing with dirty, worn down soccer ball that was probably ten years old, the grown man staring at the camera, in awe of the strange device that was pointed at him. For some reason these images moved me beyond words. I just remember the sudden feeling of wanting to see these people for myself, to touch their hands, share their smiles. Although it was an awfully large thought for a sixteen year old, I also just wanted to help them, learn from them, and in turn I thought that they would help me.
Immediately after assembly I hunted down my teacher and asked him if I could apply for the trip, and the next thing I knew I was going to our first group meeting for the trip. I’m not the type of person to do adventurous things or service trips, but there was something in the faces of the people that truly enticed me and sparked an inner curiosity about what else is out there. I feel like I live with such a narrow-minded view of the world as a whole, and the idea that people can live a life so extremely different than how we live in the United States, doesn’t cross my mind very often.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel outside of the country. I’ve visited family in England and vacationed to Mexico, but I don’t really consider that truly seeing the world. The fact is that there are so many different cultures and lifestyles that I know absolutely nothing about and couldn’t possibly begin to relate to these people. I believe that in order to be a true world citizen you have to see parts of the world that are nothing like yours. As the world becomes more integrated I think it’s important that people are able to have some idea of what it’s like outside of their home.
I believe that the world is a beautiful, evolving place that is so rich in endless cultures and lifestyles, and it is our duty as citizens of our planet to take advantage of the world we live in and meet the people that we share it with.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.