I remember my first flight like it was yesterday. The bright yellow rays of the sun blinding my eyes, the fight against gravity raising my tiny body above my seat. I had not a clue that I was being taken away from my paradigm of reality, shifted into a new world. The Third World.

The landing was rough. Rocks flew directly onto the airplane windows like hail and orange dirt left an imprint on my site. Nicaragua did not have much maintenance or upgrading done to the infrastructure at their airport. I was picked up by some aunts and uncles I was meeting for the first time. We drove out of the airport, into the streets of good old grief. At 7 years old, I was astonished by what I was seeing. Children my age were walking around barefoot, stepping on broken glass and old cigarette filters, clothing torn to pieces as if they’d been attacked by an animal, and their faces smeared in a mixture of sweat and dirt. At such a tender age, I was not able to fully grasp what was going on or where I was. I thought maybe it was just another world, a fake world, like the opposite of Disney maybe. But the more time I spent there, the more I realized, that sadly, this was REAL.

The older I got, the more curious I grew. I would constantly ask myself “how is this real? Why is this happening? Who did this? How can I change this?”. As crazy as this may sound, but at that age, I somehow knew there was something greater I could do to change this issue. I need to thank my parents for this experience, for without it I don’t know what I’d be doing with my life right now. I am pursuing law school to study International Law, as I feel strongly about helping unfortunate children and their families come out of their impoverished conditions. Every human being in this world is entitled to their basic rights; the right to food, to shelter, to health care and education, the right to pursuit a better, and happy life. I want to help make this happen for those children I saw starving and begging in the streets.

My experience traveling abroad has truly shaped the way I view the world, the way I eat, the way I purchase products, down to the way I philosophize on a daily basis. These experiences at such a tender age are those that truly change your life forever. Every journey I have encountered has left a huge imprint on my heart, mind and soul. I am grateful for my experiences with my parents abroad, and would like to encourage everyone to travel when you have the appropriate time and resources. Expose your children, expose YOURSELF to another world, and I promise you will learn and grow so much more as a person, as a human being, as a citizen of the world.