Traveling In My Own Country: Annapolis, Maryland | My Family Travels
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Applying the preceding December, I was selected to attend the 2009 US Naval Academy Summer Seminar in Annapolis (http://www.usna.edu/Admissions/nass.htm). It was an amazing week! I met over 2,250 students from around the world. We stayed at Bancroft Hall, the largest dormitory in the world and the official housing for all Midshipmen at the academy. So many activities, adventures, and experiences packed into those six days. Every morning we did physical training as battalions of 750 teens led by a Navy SEAL. During the day we attended workshops like Introduction to Naval Fleet Command, held in a simulator the size of a large room that modeled the bridge of a Navy warship, where we learned what it was like to control a ship and perform the different tasks people do while ‘at the helm.’ In Ocean Engineering, another workshop, we experimented with building different breakwaters in a wave tank to see which design reduced wave damage the most. One day we took a trip into Arlington, West Virginia, to see the USMC Sunset Parade held at the Iwo Jima Memorial. The parade included performances by the USMC Drum and Bugle Corps and the world renown Silent Drill Platoon. It was an astonishing sight watching them spin nine pound rifles with twelve inch bayonets in perfect unison. One of the highlights of the week was the Yard Patrol cruise through the bay. I actually got opportunities to both command and steer a US Navy ship.

 

We also took physical fitness tests comprised of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and multiple-mile runs. While exhausting and painful, it felt rewarding afterwards to have pushed ourselves to the uttermost limits of our ability and to have done better than we thought we could. It was also rewarding to motivate others. Some I encouraged for just a moment, as I passed them or was passed by them. But others I ran next to for a while, motivating them to face and push through their limits. We all had the will to succeed; we all wanted desperately to perform well. But we faced the physical limits of what our bodies could do, despite what our brains ordered our muscles and lungs to do. Throughout the week we tackled these limits every day, over and over again. The best part of motivating another person is the appreciation you can see in his eyes. During one test, I partnered with a guy that was not nearly as strong as I was. He was tall, thin, and uncoordinated. You could tell from his face that he had all the determination in the world, but simply was not physically capable. We did the push-ups and sit-ups together, and I motivated him like I usually do when working with someone. I will never forget the feeling I got in my heart and in my gut when I saw his face look up at mine after the tests. That look of supreme thanks for believing in him and fighting for him and fighting with him. I don’t even know his name, but whenever we happened to see each other the rest of the week, we exchanged a meaningful look or a strong handshake. It is life-changing to do something that someone appreciates that much, and to feel that you have helped others do something they could not have done on their own. It changed me.

 

Growing up in a missionary family, I have traveled all across the globe. Surprisingly, my trip to Annapolis, Maryland, was the most exciting and rewarding of all. Interesting that I could have the greatest adventure traveling in my own country.

 

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