When I think of culture, I think about how a certain civilization lives. Being from Scottsdale and vacationing in places much like it, I see only the upscale sides of destinations. Born in the suburbs, raised in the suburbs, and vacationing on the beach and in the mountains is no way to see how most of America lives. For that reason, I was excited when I found out I would get the opportunity to go to Los Angeles my sophomore year.
On a cultural level, nothing has had an impact on me as much as living in Los Angeles for a month did. I had the privilege of going to Los Angeles and experiencing first-hand the sadness that exists in this world. In such a fast-moving world, it is often easy to leave the under-privileged behind.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Mother Teresa reminded people that "being unwanted, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." In that manner I spent day after day sharing love with the sweetest children I have ever been around. This is how I learned that the only way to create a wholly perfect civilization is to have love for every person no matter their color, beliefs, or heritage.
I remember speaking to a little girl named Anna at a children’s care facility. A dime fell out of my pocket and she picked it up for me and handed it to me. Naturally, I told her that she could keep the dime. Her little face lit up as she exclaimed “Really?! Thank you so much… sometimes, daddy runs out of dollars.” It was not so much what she said as how she said it. I will never forget the innocence in her eyes and genuine graciousness that she felt for such a small gift. The picture included is of myself with little Anna.
When on a trip with a goal of helping others, it was surprising to find out that I was helped by spending time with the less fortunate. Thus, it turned out that I was the most changed by my trip to Los Angeles. My team and I barely scratched the surface of the sadness of the inner-city. Yet, the inner-city somehow made a huge change in the sadness inside each of us. It is easier to see how blessed I am now that I have seen those who are not so blessed. It is easier to see God’s will for me now that I have done it.
Therefore, my Los Angeles trip turned out to be the most influential cultural experience in my life because it transformed me forever. The people I met there, the things I saw there, and the places I went there left me a changed man because I now see my everyday world in a much different light.
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