Never did I think I would be in a room with the greatest minds of our time. Yet here I was sitting only rows away from them hearing their amazing plans for change. I had received an invitation from the National Society of High School Scholars to participate in a series of events during Nobel Week 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden.
QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Being an active member of NSHSS, I receive updates of important upcoming events and invitations to participate in special functions. I was hesitant of attending Nobel Week at first because Sweden seemed so far and foreign. I made every excuse possible to avoid this opportunity just because I was a bit scared of being out of the country and away from my family. Fortunately, my mom didn’t buy any of my excuses. I was constantly reminded by my mom to finish the application as soon as possible. There were so many guidelines and steps to this that I began to try to push it further hoping I would miss the deadline, and besides, I didn’t truly want to go.
However, after submitting the application, I realized I was hoping to be selected. There were about 200 entries from students around the country, and I was among the 20 selected students to go to Stockholm to attend the Nobel presentations given by the laureates.
Arriving in Stockholm, I didn’t know what to expect. I wondered whether the other NSHSS members would be nice and what I would gain from this. As we participated in the events at the University of Stockholm, I had a great time making friends with fellow NSHSS members from all over the United States, as well as from Ukraine and Turkey. We really got to know one another as we listened to the Nobel presentations. The laureates speech shared the importance of their studies by explaining how their research could be applied to our daily life.
The closer I grew to the other NSHSS members, the more it made me realize we’re all different but we all have something to contribute to the world. Even though we’re young, that hasn’t stopped us from taking steps closer to achieving our dreams. Although the event hosted by NSHSS lasted only 3 days, my parents decided to buy me a plane ticket to Oslo, Norway to attend the Nobel Peace Prize concert honoring Malala Yousafazai and Kailash Satyarthi. Truly wanting to get everything out of Nobel Week and taking advantage of this incredible opportunity, I could not go back home until I met Malala. After reading so much about her and knowing how similar we were in age, I felt like I had to meet such an inspirational person. With amazing seats for the concert at the Oslo Spektrum Arena, I was seated next to the entrance where the honorees, hosts, and performers would appear from. I saw Malala come out and make her speech only a few feet away. Being an advocate for children’s education, Malala and her message really resonated with me and she soon became my role model because of her bravery and her dedication.
After the concert I was even lucky enough to meet both Malala and Kailash. This trip taught me that it is worth the risk to leave your safety zone for a new world, a new adventure, a new opportunity. This experience opened my eyes to see how people use their time and talent to make positive contributions in the world. I encourage everyone to leave their comfort zone because though it may be scary at first, the journey is always worth it.
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