Where I come from is safe, well-kept and quite frankly boring. I was born and raised in Folsom and in my seventeen years of living in this sheltered community, there has been little crime, I have seen a total of one homeless person and walking around at night time is not dangerous. I am very blessed to live in such a protected bubble; however along with this security comes ignorance. While us Folsom kids worry about where to eat for lunch, worrying about being able to eat never crossed our minds. Our problems consisted of what we should play outside, not if it was safe to go outside. We would complain about people being loud but a noisy conversation or the shrill laughter of children enjoying the outdoors is better than the sounds of a gunshot. Folsom’s residents sure had problems, but these problems would have been a luxury to the unknown, outside world that we had shielded ourselves from.
â–º honorable mention 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
I knew people in other areas had it a lot worse than we did, but it wasn’t till I traveled to a third world country that this alternative lifestyle hit me. I recently went on a Missions trip with my Church, Oak Hills, to Trinidad where we stayed at the Urban Ministries Church. While there, I was constantly hot, sweaty, sticky and dirty and I grew to love it. We lived with no hot water, insects of unimaginable sizes and were busy from sun up to long past sun down. The people there had hardly any clothes, no air conditioning and minimum amounts of food but they were more thankful, happy and giving than the majority of people back in Folsom.
In Trinidad, I felt the unconditional love of the orphans we visited and the desire for a listening ear from the elderly home women. I could see the hunger for acceptance in the eyes of the drug rehab patients and the innocence in the smiles of the children of Trinidad. Helping these people gave me such joy and I felt completely satisfied; I knew there was nothing else I would rather be doing.
Trinidad didn’t look nearly as well put together as Folsom; there were no dividers in the dirt streets, no trees planted for the mere purpose of looks, and no neighborhoods, waterfalls nor street signs. Despite its lack in these decorations, Trinidad was much more beautiful than Folsom. Its beauty was real; it was beauty created from the people, the atmosphere, the diversity and the messiness. This genuine magnificence was far greater than the props that had been strategically placed in Folsom to hide any natural “flaw”. After the eleven day trip in this strange, far away land, I came back to the familiarity of home but nothing was comforting about it. I walked around town the next day only to find trees in unnaturally straight rows and people complaining about insignificant things.
Instead of the warm and welcoming feeling one would normally receive when in a familiar area, I felt eerie inside; being back in Folsom just didn’t feel right. The blindfold had come off and I didn’t want it back on; I had seen too much truth to ignore the real world any longer. Because of Trinidad, I know that whatever I do with my life, where I am going to live or what my career will be, I want to experience; I want to learn about cultures, I want to meet all types of people and I want be in diversity. I want real; no blindfold will mask my eyes again.
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