As 18 kids from the U.S. (the Snowboard Outreach Society) were chosen to go to London, I was fortunate to be one of them. Knowing that I was representing the U.S., I knew I had to be on my A game.
After landing in London my heart was pumping, I was ready to see everything. From cultural displays to athletic events, everything seemed to pop out and look amazing. Not knowing what events we were going to see was half the excitement. I know that getting to London was as if I had won the lottery, anything after that was adding to the price. I thought that this trip was going to be just for fun, but the truth is I changed. I learn plenty of things - culturally, historically, socially and just about life.
When we landed in London I still couldn't believe it, I pinched myself trying to make sure it wasn't a dream. The first day we were there we didn't rest, we were up and ready to explore. As we headed down to where we were staying, we were in shock. The building we were staying in was called High Leigh. This building was a mansion, hospital, church, and now a sort of hotel. The staff was extremely generous and we found out that most of them were volunteers and they were part of the Salvation Army. Knowing how generous people are made me think, if they can do things for others, and not think of themselves, then why are most things all about me? I became more aware.
Traveling through London made me see the difference between the USA and Great Britain. I realized the U.S. is more socially insecure. By that, I mean races are more separated here than there. I saw in Great Britain that every culture was diffusing into one another. I felt safe and secure. I enjoyed seeing people helping everywhere we went, and not racial problems like we face here. I love America, I just believe that we can become more of a unit. I mean, if Great Britain did it we can do it, too. It's not impossible.
In London we met with kids from Canada and parts of London. I learned from talking to some of them that they don't have perfect lives and they struggle just the same way as I do. Their lives haven't been filled with high points and you can say they are "at risk kids" as well. Knowing that there are kids with same problems I have is a relief. I am not the only one. Other than that, I learned how each culture reacts to one another. We all speak English but with different dialects. It was interesting, and fun to try to mimic one another's speech.
Each culture had different ways of making friends, it was interesting. We all were shy, but we became so close at the end it was depressing to say goodbye. It was like saying goodbye to a family back home. The only problem was that these were people we will probably never see again and it hurt more than anything.
I also learned that being generous always pays off. Just knowing that the Olympics had so many people there was crazy. But the wild thing was that everyone I saw there was helping out one another, and it seemed as though I was back in Eagle, the little community where people help one another, and everyone helps keep the town running. Being such a big event, I thought that I would have to just take care of myself. But everywhere I went someone was there to give a hand.
I knew then that the Olympics brought people together. Everyone just wanting to see their athletes win, and this brought Americans, Mexicans, British, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, all different cultures together for this one massive event.
This trip helped me see how the world works outside the little community I live in. It opened my eyes to see that life outside the Eagle Valley is amazing. Everything has a little twist to it, nothing that you hear is how it really is.
At the beginning of this trip I believed that I was just going to have fun, and that's about it. I didn't expect to learn so much and find things I didn't know about the world. Now that I look back of this trip, my perspective has changed in many ways.
Eagle Valley High School