New York City
by K. L., Weare, NH
As we stood in the airport terminal, I admired the voices and laughter of those around me. I began to realize that this would be the last time I would see their smiles and listen to their pleasant accents. It had now come time to say good-bye. As tears filled our eyes, we embraced and told one another that we would meet again, knowing that this was not likely. They boarded their plane en route to France, their homeland. I stood watching them leave and thought back to when we first met. It was on a trip to New York City. I was introduced to 27 exchange students, seven of whom I became good friends with. Taking part in their lives for a few days was an experience I will never forget.
During the summer of 1994, my cousin asked me to go to New York City with her and a group of exchange students. I was hesitant at first, but I eventually agreed. No sooner were we on the bus than people approached us to talk. Throughout the six-hour bus ride, we exchanged slang terms and explained what they meant. We taught them terms such as "What's up," "cool," and "cute." They taught us how to greet people and how to ask for directions. They were excited to learn more about English.
When we arrived at the hotel in New York, we were assigned to our rooms. It was flattering to hear the others ask if they could room near us. We went to our rooms to unpack. Within a few minutes we heard laughter and people tapping on our door. Needless to say, it was the exchange students. They came into our room and we stayed up for hours talking. We talked about being teenagers and what it meant. One exchange student, Dominique, brought up a very good point. She told us that being a teenager involves finding yourself. This includes the things that make you happy and the path you choose for your future. This conversation was one that I will never forget.
I learned a lot that weekend in New York City. I know more about France than I have ever known. I also learned that you should never be afraid or hesitant to meet new faces. Most important, I made seven new friends. Even though they are across the world, I will never forget them. And one thing I will always have is the lasting impressions of their laughter and their smiles.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.