I was honored with the opportunity to travel the Continent of Australia “The Land Down Under” and after a year of creative fundraising, finally I had enough funds to accept People to People Student Ambassador’s offer. We dedicated fourteen days to traveling up the east coast of Australia, exploring the country, its history, its culture and its people.
I learned about and attempted the sport of Cricket, which is similar to the American beloved sport of baseball; however, I felt cricket was much more difficult. We then went on to visit the mall, and became familiar with the locals, their clothes, and the everyday foods in the Australian Culture. The next day we toured the Sydney Opera House, which, in fact, is not a simple opera house as one may assume, but an ingeniously engineered performance art center that hosts many different types of dramas and ballets along with hosting operas. I then went on to learn about the Australian natives, the Aborigines, from an actual Aborigine on an actual Aborigine reservation! My group and I listened to Aborigine folk tales, and learned native ways of doing many things including: learning the art of throwing spears and boomerangs, and playing a famous Aborigine instrument, the Didgeridoo.
Nevertheless, with being a girl, visiting the Opal Factory was the most interesting part of my day; the national gemstone of Australia was absolutely mesmerizing! Likewise, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef seemed like nothing less than a dream. Swimming with and learning about the many different fish and turtles living in the Great Barrier Reef in which I had seen in the movie, Finding Nemo, many times over was utterly surreal, as was the whole trip. I acquired more knowledge in those fourteen days actually traveling the country than I had in my nine years of history classes that I had taken up unto that point.
One of the most influential aspects of the whole trip was the “homestay”. I spent about two days with a family in New South Rocks, New South Wales, Australia. We spent our time talking all night about our sides of the Earth, listening to music, joking and we even attended a party. I was amazed at the facts of, though we lived on two opposite sides of the world, we listened to the same music, told the same type of jokes, was interested in the same things, and had the same problems. I was absolutely hysterical listening to them mimic American accents, which they had expressed they did often. Before leaving, we even made sure we all became friends on the social network “Myspace” and still keep in touch till this day. Since 1956, the People to People mission has been to promote peace through understanding and I believe that it is achieving this goal with every Voyage.
When learning and spending time with a country and its people, you realize that essentially, the people are not much different than you are and eventually start to feel like a part of their culture. We all share common bonds that bring us all great joy when an effort is made to explore and understand our similarities, as well as our differences.
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