To many living outside the United States of America, this country appears to be a place that is paved with gold. To many, Americans seem to live a life of luxury and “have it all.” American’s demographic statistics and the media would support this belief, and encourage others to believe that Americans are all “rich.” Why then does it seem that the people I attend school with and live next to are never satisfied with their lives? This inability to be content and thankful for what one has appeared to me to be the source of the problem, and my theory was put to the test with my trip to New Delhi, India.
â–º quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
My trip to India was supposed to be a lavish trip, in which I attended my cousin’s wedding. In many ways it was lavish, as there were numerous hairstylists, makeup artists, beautiful dresses, lavish parties, and so on. The American mentality of “having it all” was very present in this sense; however, I ended up gaining experiences that I never dreamed of receiving.I did not anticipate that much would be different in India, since I had been there before. This trip, though, made me look at the people and environment through different eyes, and it was depressing. While on this trip, I saw little children who were five or six years old, separated from their parents, raped, and forced to beg on the streets. They had nothing to call their own. They had nothing to depend on. They had little to no hope. In talking to some of them, their dreams and wishes were simple– to see their parents again. What I realized was that some of those children had been sold and were now someone else’s “property.” I soon realized that many Americans couldn’t imagine being without their iPods, let alone being someone else’s property without any personal items to call their own. Some of these boys and girls looked at me like I was the devil, because I appeared to have so much. My eyes and heart were opened at that moment, and I realized what it truly meant to be content and thankful.
Upon coming home from this trip I was a little down, as everything in my life seemed like such a waste or disappointment. We have game systems; they had sticks. We have water fountains; they had trouble finding drinking water. We have families; they had no one. I realized that my thinking needed to change, and that the things I was taking for granted in my life also needed to change. I began making it my personal mission to imprint positive joy in our environment of discontent. It became a daily task to encourage someone to change their mindset and be thankful, if I heard them complaining about something that truly was trivial. I shared my trip experiences with them and encouraged them to see the good in what they were attempting to complain about. My volunteer work at school and in my community allows me to extend my personal mission even farther. While it has been a couple of years since my trip, those children’s images still burn a place in my mind and my heart.
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