The window wass small and black, and the sky outside was an inky dark. The plane flew so effortlessly through the sky that the miles passed by in a shadow of obscurity. All around me, people were in varying states of discomfort, attempting to take hold of that elusive entity that seems to elude people on planes: sleep. The girl beside me, who seemed to need the entirety of our shared insignificant armrest, stared absentmindedly out the window. The silence was unnerving, and I realized for the first time that I have forgotten her name. As I mulled over my embarrassment she began to speak, albeit in an unassuming voice, for the first time during the flight. “Do you think,” she began, “that when all of this is over, we’ll step onto this plane at the end of our trip different people than the those that we’re leaving behind?” The frankness of her statement was off-putting, and the only answer that maked sense to me at the that moment was, “Maybe.” In the following weeks, perhaps the best weeks that I have ever lived, my thoughts continued drift back to those words.
In the early morning, the air was soft and muted, and I walked across the Avenue des Champs-Elysees without pausing for the traffic light, to a bakery where the croissants were too hot to touch. At midday, I saw the sunlight reflecting off of Belgium’s bottle-green canals, as a shopkeeper in the Grote Market leisurely swept the cobblestone sidewalk in front of his store. At dusk, the Alpine mountains turned a pale violet, and it was then that I realized that I was standing at the summit of Europe, and nothing could ever be more magnificent, or more profound, than this moment.
So, can I rightfully boast that my journey with the People to People Student Ambassadors was fantastically life altering, and that I have planted an indelible footprint upon the threshold of society’s future? Yes! Through my 23 day experience I did learn one thing about myself for certain. I am not the same person that I was before, though it is impossible to determine what exactly has changed in me. Maybe it’s the way that the world seems to radiate a depth and a richness that I could not see through the eyes of my old mind. Close your eyes. Can you feel it? Maybe it cannot be felt, because it has become such an inherent feature of myself, and it would be impossible for me to remember my life when it was not present. Maybe it was the words that were spoken on that airplane so long ago, by the girl who’s name, even as retell this story to you now, I cannot remember. Could it really have caused me such confusion? I wish that I could go back and ask that mysterious girl what she meant by those words, but now she is gone. Not knowing the truth is maddening, but maybe that is the way the journey was meant to end.
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