The most unexpected moments sometimes turn out to be the ones that influence you the most. This was the force of the mighty Syntagma Square, the prominent historic area in Athens, Greece.
It was my family’s second day on the trip and we were gearing up for an exciting day of sightseeing. The sight, aroma, and taste of Greek culture was being thrown onto us in a captivating fashion. As I led my family down to the square, I began to recognize the noted place we were entering. The luxurious garden and space endeared by Queen Amalia in the past now seemed quite inclusive to all, in contrast to its original purpose. All citizens, from far and wide, used the space for a variety of purposes. A beautiful view of Athenian restaurants, banks, and shops surrounded the square with action from all sides. The excitement of the square oozed over to the other streets as vendors lined up their carts for the day. As we stopped to look over a beautiful hand-crafted statue of Poseidon, I heard a fresh wave of excitement from behind me.
I spun around to see a group of citizens gathering in a crowd. The tension in the air had been building and we were soon in the middle of a global demonstration. The citizens over the past few weeks had been attempting to showcase their disgust for their government practices. They were on a brink of a financial collapse due to a growing unpaid debt. I stood in awe as reporters from all over the world, including CNN and BBC news, rushed past me in order to capture the scene. Despite the chants being in Greek and foreign to me, I could feel the pounding energy with every word.
As Woodrow Wilson once said, “I believe in democracy because it releases the energy of every human being”. Through the historic Syntagma Square, I could feel the weight of the words with every syllable. In the birthplace of democracy, I had encountered something far more powerful than any normal demonstration. With a hazy view of the Acropolis from the streets, the thoughts of democracy and its ideals were surrounding us. The establishment of democracy in the city and its lasting influence had not been washed away by time. As the rally continued with fierceness, I closed into the action and decided to capture the moment. I began recording with my cell phone and felt a trembling feeling from the sheer synergy of the crowd.
During that brief moment, I slowly began to see the simplicity of travel. I realized that different areas in the world will have different cultures that can teach you lessons through different experiences. But through all of those differences, we sometimes fail to recognize the overarching similarity of it all. No matter our individual goals, possessions, and personal beliefs, we are one. I have seen every museum, monument, and structure with a different lens since this experience. A lens that reveals the power of us. The outcome of collaboration from different people working to achieve a common goal is the reason behind my travel. I learnt that the gift of traveling is witnessing the power of unison between people and letting it inspire others to do the same.
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