My New World View This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 28, 2009
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Do you ever think about the world around you? Can you point to Zimbabwe on a map? Do you know the state of the economy in India? Do you know how the Dominican Republic is governed? This past summer I realized that many people are oblivious to what is going on in the world, including me.

In July, I tagged along with a friend’s family to Cancun, Mexico, marking my first trip out of the U.S. While I was excited to check out beaches, haggle for jewelry on the shoreline, and crack open some novels by the pool, I truly looked forward to experiencing a country and culture different from my own. Ironically, I discovered more about the U.S. than I did about Mexico. And much to my surprise, these discoveries didn’t involve practicing my Spanish, as I had anticipated. I acquired more knowledge from a trio of French boys than from the many Mexicans I encountered.

Brice, Francois, and Benjamin were three friends from a city near Paris who had traveled to Cancun for a two-week stay. Despite being severely jetlagged, they still managed to be in high spirits and were thrilled to carry on many interesting and intelligent conversations. We talked about politics, history, and culture, among other topics. They offered insight into their world – and mine. We ended up learning a lot from each other, and I gained a new perspective on my own country and people.

The boys’ thoughts on America really shed light on how little I (and other Americans) know about the rest of the world. A few of their comments stuck out in my mind and led to my epiphany. Brice was adamant in his belief that Barack Obama was the best man for president (and our nation has since agreed). While I enjoyed sharing my opinions about the U.S. election, I later realized that I had absolutely no knowledge of French government or politics. Had Brice asked me who the president of France was, I would have had no clue! My cheeks turn bright red just thinking about how embarrassing it would have been to admit I knew nothing about their government, while they could speak fairly good English and discuss American politics as if they were talking about their own country.

Later, Francois mentioned that he found it hard to believe that many Americans he had spoken to did not even know where France was located. He was appalled that some could not even name what continent his country was in. All three boys agreed that they had generally thought of Americans as ignorant and close-minded. However, they assured us that we had helped to disprove those theories.

The fact that I knew so little beyond my own bubble really disturbed me, and I have since made a conscious effort to pay more attention not only to the events in my country but also in other parts of the world. I try to catch the news or read the paper, hunting for world news to broaden my horizons.

We all get caught up in our lives and our own little corner of the world, but it’s important to branch out and learn about other cultures. I encourage everyone to become more aware of what’s happening in countries and continents far from the place you call home.

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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emily S. said...
May 7, 2009 at 3:37 am
i have a friend named emily c and my name is emilys emilys should rule the world! haha! btw i lovve your story!
 
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