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The Greek Goat

Have you ever been offered a goat as payment? Have you ever slept in a room made entirely of ice? Have you ever stood in three countries at the same exact time? I have.

Experiencing small tastes of culture in all corners of the world definitely makes someone diverse, but having witnessed the poor quality of life and bad conditions in which some kids live have put my own life and opportunities into perspective. These experiences have also given me an appreciation for diversity and for different cultures. I am half Dutch and half American, and I've lived most of my life in Belgium. I have been privileged to travel to more than 20 countries, including Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bulgaria and Sweden. As a result, I thought I knew all about diversity. It wasn't until I volunteered in Greece with an organization called Young Life that the word 'diverse' got a new meaning.

Most people may think of Greece as beautiful tourist destination, and although that may be true for parts of Greece, I experienced the country's poorer and less fortunate parts. My group and I renovated and beautified a runned-down school. Next door to the school there lived a man in a small house surrounded by a muddy yard. A few days into the project, while I was outside, the man came up to me, holding a baby goat. He gently handed me the little animal, nodding his head as if gesturing me to take it. I said "Thank you!" and cuddled the goat for no more than five seconds before the man turned to walk away. Slightly confused, I quickly followed him and tried to give him back the goat. There was a strong language barrier between us, so he simply waved his arm as if to say no, and continued walking.

I took the goat to my group leader and a Greek translator, and they told me that the man had given me the goat as a gesture of gratitude for our work. To be offered a goat as payment seemed like such a throwback from the modern civilization in which I lived in Belgium, and really put my life into perspective. Living in Europe and frequently traveling isn’t completely unique, however my varied experiences have certainly shaped me and made me very cognisant of diversity. I know that I am a more empathetic, open and accepting person because of what I have experienced in Europe, and I am so grateful these experiences have shaped me into who I am today.



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Artgirl1999This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 24 at 11:28 am:
Great article. You did a good job with formatting and description. By the way...what did you do with the goat? :)
 
andielynne13 replied...
Jan. 24 at 4:05 pm :
Thank you! I had to ask our Greek translator to help, and he explained to the man that it was a nice gesture but I couldn't accept his goat! It was a very interesting trip :)
 
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