In my 18 years of life I have been on many exciting and life changing trips, however there is one that stands out more than all the others. The trip that I am talking about was my family’s 2008 trip to Chicago. Most people go on trips to seek relaxation and to get away from the stress and worries of home, but for me, I went on this trip for another reason. My family and I were venturing to the windy city to site see of course, but the main reason for going was so that we could attend the F.I.R.S.T. (Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types) Ichthyosis Family Conference. This conference is where kids from all over the world who have Ichthyosis, a rare genetic skin disorder, can come together to meet and learn from one another. I happen to be one of these few kids who are affected by Ichthyosis. Ichthyosis causes the body to produce too much of the thickening agent causing the skin to be thicker and somewhat scaly. Because of this, my skin keeps me from sweating. I have found it to be both a blessing and a curse, but have just learned to live with it. I was so excited that I was going to get to meet other kids who were just like me and faced the same challenges that I face.
On the day of our departure, my family and I woke up very early and got on the road without delay. It seemed like the drive would never end, but I kept myself occupied with reading and sleep. The interstate seemed to drag on forever, but finally we began to see the enormous buildings come into view. After eight hours of driving we finally made it. Excitement filled ever ounce of my body. We settled down into the hotel and anxiously awaited the next day.
Finally the time came! As we listened to the opening speech in the conference room, I gazed around at the people around me with excitement. These people were just like me and shared the same struggles that I did. I could not wait to meet them! After the speech, we played some games to get to know each other. I met people from all over the world including a family from Belgium. Later on during the day, all the teenagers met together and shared their experiences with each other. Hearing other people’s stories was really life changing. I learned something about myself and about life from every person there because I could relate to each and every one of them. I felt comfortable because I knew that these people understood me and would not judge me as many others do.
On the last night, there was a big Hawaiian dance party. There I met one man who had been a track runner just like me. It was amazing to see someone who had the same condition as me and still be successful in athletics just as I have aspired to be. He was truly an inspiration to me. I also met a lot of other friends who I still keep in touch with.
This trip truly was one I will never forget. It was incredible interacting with other kids with Ichthyosis and learning from them. Each one was a true inspiration. Those that I met taught me to be strong and live my life to the fullest and not let my condition ever slow me down. This trip opened up many doors for me and allowed me to learn a lot about others as well as myself.
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