Friendly Skies This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     There is nothing more diverse, unique, and intriguing than the atmosphere surrounding airports and planes. From the moment you enter, you find a world where you are alone even though you are surrounded by people. Everyone is moving, and everyone has a story: some are on vacation, some have just arrived from another country, some are jet-lagged or catching the red-eye. Everyone, however, is released into a temporary and unique community where encounters between strangers often take place.

You can tell your entire life story to someone while cruising over the Pacific, and then never speak to her again. You can meet someone from your hometown, or you can console and comfort a nervous seatmate on his maiden flight.

The one-of-a-kind situations unwitting passengers are thrust into, including those that take them outside their comfort zone and introduce them to other cultures, are not found in many other places. Even though planes are uncomfortable, the meals abysmal, and in-flight movies always bad, talking with and discovering more about fellow travelers eases the time considerably. Families flying together tell tales of visiting relatives, while elderly grandparents relate experiences of other countries. The sad eyes of a middle-aged man tell you of his pilgrimage to his father’s funeral, and a soldier’s tears show his heroism as he returns to his family.

The languages and cultures represented do not present barriers to the march of humanity; they enrich and bring others into the experience. Airplanes connect the world, dissolving barriers, and in airports you can experience the stories of others. Nowhere else do nations so readily share their commonality, and the excuses of those who claim humans cannot live in peace and understanding fall on deaf ears.

Our times will never be perfect, but while people of different races, nationalities, and creeds can join so deeply in such a supposedly functional place as an airport, humanity does not seem too separate. The experiences in an airport are seldom thought of in this way, but they represent the nature of humans: to share life, and to forsake the classic borders of nations and races for a deeper unity.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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