My Thoughts About a Trip to Russia

May 26, 2011
You could say that I am well-traveled. I have been to Alaska, Costa Rica, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, China and Turkey; and I have recently added another country to my list: a small, somewhat insignificant country called Russia. I saw so much in those 11 days that it would take longer than this class period to explain it all, or even just the parts I remember. I could sit here and bore you with the beauty and magnificence of all of the churches, cathedrals and palaces that we saw, because I believe that the point of seeing all of those was not to remember every little detail of every painting, but it was to get a holistic idea of what it was like to live in imperial Russia centuries ago. However, I’ll try to avoid that. I’ll tell you that what really shocked me was finding out how screwed up the world is.
When I went to the conference on the first day, I learned about so many issues that I had no idea existed. For example, I was in the disarmament committee and one of our topics was combating piracy off the coast of Somalia. I know this sounds sad since we are, after all, the Pirates; but I truly thought that piracy had long been an issue of the past. I thought that piracy was a problem hundreds of years ago when eighteenth century ships were taken over for their gold. However, I learned that piracy today is still prevalent, that it can cost people huge sums of money or even their lives, and that it has serious implications for the world. I soon realized that it is so difficult to achieve peace in the world because as one problem is solved, another arises. For example, as soon as we get our combat troops out of Iraq, a crisis erupts in Libya and multiple earthquakes devastate Japan.
One major thing I’ve learned from traveling to many countries is that the kids my age from the other country are often very much like me. It’s just sad that they had to freeze their behinds off in March when it was 75 to 80 degrees over here in Florida. So I learned from traveling to Russia and meeting so many new people my age that so many of the problems we have here seem so trifling when you consider the grand scheme of things. People in Somalia have to fear being taken hostage and being forced to pay ransoms of up to a few million dollars whenever they deliver goods by ship, even if it’s just their job. Also, I occasionally see news about an explosion in Moscow or another city in Russia, when none of us could imagine someone trying to harm the peaceful little town of Vero Beach.
So while I loved the nice hotels, the snowball fights, sliding on the frozen lake, and going to a Russian club; what I will really take away from this trip is that the world is pretty messed up, and to solve all of its problems we need everyone to take part. I believe that too many people spend their lives unaware of the ghastly things that happen in some parts of the world. Going to Russia has made presentations by clubs like Invisible Children and Global Awareness have more meaning because I know what they are talking about and I can relate them to the issues I heard about at the conference. In the end, Russia has taught me to think bigger than Vero, bigger than Florida, and even bigger than the US, and I think that is the first step in finding solutions to the troubles facing our world. I yield my time to the chair.

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