It all started the day my mother picked me up from school and handed me my first orange travel umbrella, complete with little orange carrier, and my first official passport. The kitchen table started piling up with maps and travel books like “Experience Paris: A Travel Guide”, “Rick Steve’s Paris 2005”, and “City Walks: 50 Paris Adventures on Foot”. Yes, that’s right, we were going to Paris. The day she announced it all I could think about was the Eiffel and Mona Lisa, Le Sacre Coeur and the hall of mirrors at Versailles. I began slowly packing right away, even three months in advanced. This was the day I had been waiting for my whole 12 year old life.
On board the airplane I had a street map of Paris sitting on the tray table in front of me. Any walking by might have thought I was trying to find gold the way I had circled and connected dots in red marker of every single place I was sure we would go. Luckily after we established ourselves on the ground and in our apartment room we headed out to the Eiffel. All my dreams lived up to this moment right now. Well the moment after the really attractive French man stepped on the back of my shoe and apologized profusely in French. So we hopped on the metro and hopped off in just one second to the stairs by the Louve. Each step was like walking on the stairway to heaven. I inhaled the beautiful clear air, listened to the birds and French people going their way. Then there is was, right before my eyes, tall, proud, and strong. “Mom look! There’s the Eiffel! There she is!” Her enthusiasm wasn’t as great as mine as she had already been here once before, but I didn’t care. Though there was much to see, I could have gone home at that moment even with the Eiffel tower still being almost 3 miles away.
That weekend my mom, my aunt, and I went to every possible tourist attraction that weekend. And though some things were a little disappointing, like the size of Mona Lisa and the construction on the Hall of Mirrors that year, visiting Paris started me on an adventure to complete myself. I started broadening my horizons, understanding different cultures, opening my mind completely, and feeling like I belonged in the world. It helped me realize that the whole world is so similar and yet so different. It’s just that those differences sometimes stop us from taking one another’s hand and joining together for world peace. I think that’s what the whole goal should be, and now after almost 5 years I have traveled to 7 different countries where I have helped people understand the United States, though a nation, is not just what the news might say we are, we are people none the less.
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