It is believed that in order to broaden the mind of an individual one must journey through the world. In order to grasp the true fundamentals of what life really means, then one has to venture to every corner of this vast, extravagant planet with the pure intention of curiosity and wonder. It is my belief that by discovering new destinations, new cultures, and new horizons scattered across the world, I will bring myself closer to having a superior understanding with the world I live in. There is no such thing as having a perfect apprehension of the world we live in, but I believe it is the duty of every human being to strive to this sense of perfection and work for the struggle.
It is the summer of 2011, my sophomore year in high school is on the verge of being completed. I learn that our family has booked a five-star hotel called the Mövenpick Hotel in Medina, Saudi Arabia. We are to stay here for one week and then travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia for another week staying in the luxurious Al-Ghufran Hotel. When I hear this, obviously I am excited! Having been here two years before, I have already experienced the feeling of traveling to this historic, culturally-rich region of the world, but never have I lived there for more than a week.
We are aboard Saudi Airlines, landing in the King Abdul Aziz Airport, and finally arrive in Mecca. Inside the Forbidden Mosque, the largest mosque in the world housing the Holy Kabah I was able to meditate every single day and reflect on where my life has taken me, read the Holy Quran, and even take some of the most relaxing naps I have ever had! But what struck me the most is the people. I was amazed at the vast diversity in the people put together in this holy place. There were worshippers all the way from Indonesia and even from the good old USA. Whenever I had the chance, I would engage in a conversation with the person next to me, asking where he is from and what inspired him to journey all the way here. For example, I am sitting right in front of the Kabah with the many worshippers waiting for the prayer to start. As I am waiting, I simply break the ice by speaking with the man next to me. He was not too well in English; instead he keeps repeating the word “Français.” I finally realize that he speaks French, and being privileged enough to have studied four years of French I asked him how is he and where he is from. We continued speaking and then our discussion grew as about ten people joined in the conversation. As prayer was about to begin, he simply told me that “follow your dreams” and to “be true in your faith.” I kept this in my head and just pondered to myself. After the prayer, I left with my brother, but I still kept the man’s words to myself of and continued thinking. I realized that when traveling in any part of the world, it is not the places you enter or the famous sites you take pictures of that makes that region of the world special, but the people you meet. I understood that by meeting the fellow pilgrims like the man I spoke with, I am able to experience the true culture of that part of the world.
I understand that I am far away from perfection in knowledge, but through travel, I can strive for perfection.