As I stepped off of the plane when we first arrived in Lusaka, Zambia I had no idea how much this trip would change my perspective on life.
Words can not even begin to describe the emotions that over come you when an entire school is at tears because simple school supplies have opened up a new world of opportunities for them. No experience can even compare to the joy that you feel when a child who has been struggling in school understands exactly what you have been trying to teach them regardless of the obvious language barrier.
This trip has taught me so much in a duration of 19 days. No school lesson can teach you how to make a five year old orphan laugh and smile.
At first the idea of being isolated from my parents and all technology was very daunting. Not only was this my first time in Zambia it was my first time in Africa. With such a different experience and a different lifestyle, it seems very intimidating. I would never had expected how much such a diverse groups of kids could bond over the simple love of helping their fellow human beings.
I had thoughts of these few weeks making me more conscious of my every day decisions yet it did so much more. Never again will I take advantage of my education. As Americans we are handed so many tools to sculpt our lives into what we want. Zambian students are not all given good paths to follow and have to work hard to create their own future with no help from their family or their government.
Now that I have stayed in a completely different world for almost three weeks, I never want to stop traveling. After being submerged in a new culture that I knew so little about I have learned to appreciate small aspects of life such as food or dance. I never would have thought I could move my hips the way the Zambians taught me I can. I now love dancing and find it hard to stay still when a good beat comes on.
While their food was different, it was intriguing. Their staple food that keeps their stomachs from begging for food did not look in the least bit enticing the first time that it was presented to me a Chikumbuso school. I gave it a few more tries and now I will voluntarily take a portion of the traditional Zambian dish called nshima.
I can already see myself arriving back home as a much better person than I have ever been before. I have a much more positive attitude towards complete strangers. The people that I have met in this country are naturally good and kind. A smile can always be found.
Saying good bye is always bitter sweet and this time is no different. I miss such basic things such as my shower, my dogs, my car and my bed. I can not wait to see my parents and my brother at the airport.
Zambia has been so good to me. The children welcomed us with hugs and love without even knowing our names. So many families treated us to nshima and what little food they had to spare. This departure will be saying good bye to so much while opening a new mindset in my way of living.
Chloe L., Annandale High School