Saturday, June 3, 2017
Essay after U.S. trip: The World of Colors
I went on a school "Vision Trip" to the U.S. and wrote a short essay about the things I felt.
Before the Vision Trip, the United States seemed like a vast and deep ocean to me; a place where I could easily drown if I did not do my best to keep myself floating. I had spoken the language of that country for more than ten years, and still the U.S. had merely been an abstract and unknown place for me. As I spent night after night in the U.S., I slowly got the idea of diversity, noticing how different everything was from what I had been used to. The trip was definitely more than meaningful.
The biggest thing I learned in the Vision Trip came from the difference I noticed between Americans and Koreans. It was unfamiliar but actually pleasant. Whenever I entered a store and bought something, the cashier would say “Good day,” or even “How are you doing?” At first, it was kind of awkward to start a conversation with someone I had just met because cashiers in Korea never said such a thing. Give them the right amount of money, and they would just let me go, sometimes managing to say a short goodbye. However, in the U.S., not only cashiers, but almost every stranger I came across talked to me nicely without hesitation. Later on, when I arrived at the airport, I became the one who first said hello to the staff. The power of smiling and engaging someone in a friendly conversation was unbelievably strong.
Walking on the streets of New York was such a wonder. New York was definitely not clean, and it smelled of cigarettes and cars, but the city itself somehow seemed to exude a ‘colorful’ aura. Each person passing by had different hair, skin color, and expression. The music that was played here and there on the streets were from different countries, but fit in perfectly well to the city. Being in the middle of so many people in one of the most populated cities on Earth, I suddenly felt small. At the same moment, I felt like an important piece of puzzle that made up a part of New York. Everyone mattered because they were just there, no matter who they were and where they were from.
The Vision Trip erased the abstract idea of the United States from my mind. Instead, it was replaced with a fresh sense of what it is like to stand among people who are peculiar in each way. I learned the beauty of diversity and awkwardness – how an “unbalanced” world is wonderful in a way.
*Just in case: Koreans are actually very friendly - I think they are just not as friendly to strangers, maybe.