The world under one roof | My Family Travels
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             From Europe and Asia to Africa and even the West Indies, this summer I had the privilege of experiencing more than 50 different cultures under the same roof. Attending the Global Young Leaders Conference was indisputably one of the best experiences of my life. Meeting 300 teenagers from all over the world in Washington DC and New York left me a changed person.
            Since I was very young, I’ve been interested in learning about people and cultures from around the world. However, my global perspective truly changed after GYLC.
            When I landed at Reagan-National Airport, I had butterflies in my stomach. I didn’t know anybody else at this conference yet I was curious to find out what lay ahead of me.
            When I reached the hotel and signed in, I looked around the conference room to see people from all corners of the globe. I was fascinated by the wide range of accents, clothing styles, skin colors, and hair textures present under this roof. Hearing simultaneous conversations in Spanish, German, Arabic and even Chinese made me feel as if I were at the Olympics. It was intriguing to see how people of different cultures behaved in a large social setting. Although I wanted to join in and get to know everyone, my introverted nature initially held me back. However, I quickly realized that in order to full enjoy the experience I would have to throw aside this shyness. As I saw others going around and introducing themselves, I did the same. Everyone was very warm and receptive and before I knew it, I was being pushed into group pictures with people from Panama, Ghana, and Mauritius.
           As anxious as everyone else to meet my roommates, I went to my room and opened the door to find two other girls, one from Trinidad & Tobago and the other from Germany and Indonesia. We introduced ourselves and quickly became good friends. Throughout our stay in DC, we stayed up late talking and having fun. I even learned how to dance to “Soca,” a form of Trinidadian music which is a fusion of African, Indian, and European beats.
          Everyday we attended Leadership Group Meetings with our assigned country groups. In the beginning, our United Kingdom group remained reserved; however, after a day or two, we became a very lively, talkative bunch as we prepared for the Global Summit together.
          It was an amazing experience visiting all the historical monuments of DC and New York as a group. Although I’d visited the Washington Monument and United Nations building before, experiencing these sites through the eyes of an international audience gave me a unique perspective on America.
        
In addition to my roommates and LGM members I made other new friends. I ate dinner with a new group of people almost everyday, got to know my bus buddies and even made some friends through elevator conversations. I even had the opportunity to speak in different languages—while I spoke in Spanish to my friends from Columbia, I spoke in Hindi to my friends from India and in Tamil to my friend from Sri Lanka. By the time of the farewell cruise, everyone became emotional. We had all become so close that by the end of the program none of us were ready to leave. As I said goodbye to everyone, I promised to myself that I would never forget anyone. In addition to learning about the United Nations and international diplomacy, I was transformed into a more gregarious person. Most importantly, I learned that friendship transcends cultural and ethnic boundaries.

 

 

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