Ever since I can remember, I've always been taught to give thanks for everything I have such as food, clean water and my home because there are so many unfortunate people out there without these essentials. As a young girl I was very ignorant; not in a negative way but through my lack of knowledge. I never knew the actual number of people on this planet that suffered from starvation and had no permanent place to live. Born and raised in NYC, anyone would think that I would have a better understanding of the amount of homeless people out there, but I never deeply thought about the homeless people I had seen on the streets. I rarely saw them and when I did, they were one in a million through my eyes. It wasn't until I went on a trip to the Dominican Republic with my father at the age of thirteen that I finally understood that there really were people out there living day by day, starving, sick and pleading for help. It was on a beautiful sunny day when I went to get a pie of pizza with my father that my knowledge of people in need had forever been changed. As we came out of a pizza shop, a young boy who looked about the same age as my brother approached us and asked if we would buy dvd's and candy from him so he could buy food and help out his family. It was so shocking to me, right in front of me there was a boy almost my age, asking for money because he was hungry and needed to not only help himself but his family. I immediately pulled out the change I had been saving from the country for "souvenirs" and gave it all to him. My dad bought a couple of dvd's as well and it felt so good to give this boy even that little bit of money. As soon as the boy went his own way, I started crying; it was at that moment that I began to realize how good I had it because I was so heartbroken by what I had just seen. That moment changed my life from that day on, I focused on appreciating all I had and not complaining about the small things that bothered me. I feel as though that experience allowed me to mature and have a better understanding of the things occurring around the world to people no different than I. On the same trip to the island, I was also introduced to new places and residencies I never knew existed, such as the China Town (Barrio Chino) of the country and the Haitian population! I had no idea that there were any people of Asian descent living in the Caribbean. I thought that the United States was the only country with such a diverse population. My trip to my family's country of origin opened my eyes to many things I had not known about, allowed me to understand real daily problems of real people and be much more grateful for all I have. I believe this trip was what triggered something within me, an inner voice that told me I had to focus on doing great in school so that I could one day work to help people in need and afford to donate much of my income to people who really needed the money.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.