Imagine a humongous sea of people waving their arms in the air and using their different voices to sing an inspirational Christian contemporary song in perfect harmony. This is what I experienced every morning during World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia. World Youth Day is a gathering of youth from different countries of the world where everyone can praise together and learn more about their faith. For two years prior to the trip, the youth at my parish led various fund raisers to lessen the costs of traveling to a different country. This trip to Australia was not only a retreat away from home or a tour of a new country, but it was also an opportunity for us to strengthen our faith and find that we’re not alone in our beliefs, fears, and doubts. This was an amazing experience because not only was I able to strengthen my faith with the help of guest speakers and amazing presentations, but I also made new relationships with people I had never talked to before. World Youth Day was a vacation, bonding time, and learning experience rolled into ten short days with the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
This summer trip was like no other because I was with a large group of people my age and only 4 adult chaperones. Also, we were traveling for religious reasons while I was so used to always going to another country for leisure. Because of this, I thought that our chaperones would be strict and wouldn’t allow us to have fun after the day’s activities were through. Surprisingly, we were given much freedom and were able to experience the fascinating night life of another country. Although I was excited about blending in with the locals while the other tourists were already resting, the thought of going out late at night scared me so much because I’m terrified of being lost and couldn’t imagine how I’d find my way back to the hotel if that happened in Australia. The funny thing is that I actually did get lost with someone who I was never close to before. While I was freaking out and telling my new friend that we were never going to get back to the hotel, he kept his calm and we finally found our way back. The fact that he was able to laugh about what had happened taught me that I should get over my fear of being lost because going crazy about being lost certainly doesn’t bring me back home. After I dried my tears and finally made my way to the hotel room, my friend and I became extremely close and I was never lost with my friend to guide me.
Before spending ten days together, each person going to Sydney would have gone home without a complaint. After we all bonded and got to know each other better, we were all praying for a delayed flight and one more night together. Although we only got closer over the span of ten short days, it felt like we all knew each other since birth. We shared our faith, our laughs, and our lives together. Each person that went to Sydney taught me a new lesson, whether it was how to sing and dance for God or how to keep calm when I’m lost, and I will always cherish those moments and the people I shared them with. Even though I can’t go back in time and relive those ten life changing days, I still have the memory of what was World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia.
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