I woke up to find a sea of strange faces hovering over me. Hands and water bottles were pushed towards me by a half dozen strangers speaking several languages at once. My dad, who I then realized was kneeling next to me, picked me up like a rag doll and sat me down on the fountain wall. This did not seem like a fortuitous beginning to our 5th day in Europe.
We arrived at the Lourve early and had been standing in line to wait for the museum to open. The air was cool and a little misty, a break from the 90+ degree heat of the last four days. Standing in the shadow of the glass pyramid in the courtyard of the museum, I had begun to feel quite cold and light headed. Sensing something wasn’t right, I told my mom I needed to sit and started to walk towards the low walled fountain just a dozen or so feet away. The next thing I knew, it seemed all of Europe was standing over me offering me water and advice. I had fainted in front of the entire crowd of museum visitors!
Once inside the museum, and after a trip to the cafeteria for a chocolate croissant and orange juice, I felt like myself again. My mom dug a bandaid out of her purse for the scraped knee I had received in the fall. I was patched and nurished and ready to tour the museum’s famous exhibit halls. I thought that I had returned to my status as an invisible tourist. Instead, I found that many people who had been in line with us recognized me and asked – often in broken English or through gestures – if I felt better and pointed to the bandaid on my knee. They didn’t care what my nationality or religion was, they didn’t care about my skin color or socio-economic condition, they were simply concerned about me.
This embarassing experience made me appreciate the good in people, and reminded me that I should never let language or cultural barriers prevent me from interacting with or caring about other people.
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