I’m a huge Oprah Winfrey fan. I read things that she recommends, and I keep up with what she supports. Recently, I read that she is going on an Alaska cruise this summer, and she is going to give away three tickets to join her on that cruise. To enter, she asked folks to write about how they connect with people, and how traveling is an important part of making those connections. I wrote this below before realizing it had to be 1000 CHARACTERS, not 1000 words. Oops! Needless to say, I had to make a VERY compact version of this, but here is what my original response looked like:
I’m a teacher struck with wanderlust.
I travel when I can, for now,
And make world connections every day.
I connect with the girl from Saudi Arabia who only makes it to class sporadically-
She’d rather care for her father, dying of pancreatic cancer, on days when her mom can find work.
I tell her to read while he sleeps and we’ll talk.
I connect with the autistic boy from Israel who responds, “I don’t see what’s so good about it” when I say “good morning” to him each day. He knows he makes me smile.
I connect with the Ethiopian girl who lost both of her parents when she was four,
and lived in an orphanage until she was adopted at nine.
Her new family has twelve other adopted children from Ethiopia.
She teaches me about optimism and appreciation.
I connect with a girl who saw her family members brutally assaulted in a home invasion in Somalia before immigrating to the United States. I’m happy she’s here, and I tell her so.
I connect with an African American girl who works fifty hours a week at a Taco Bell to support her drug-addicted mother, and the baby of her brother, who is dying of AIDS
in prison. She often turns in work late. It’s okay.
I check on her every day, and never turn her down
when she asks for a quarter or a granola bar.
I connect with the brilliant, gay, African American boy who is trying to find himself.
I tell him to be proud.
I tell him his intelligence and heart are simply not things to be ashamed of.
I connect with the Jamaican girl who suffers from bipolar disorder and can’t maintain friendships.
She is paired with a shy girl from the Dominican Republic.
I saw them laughing yesterday.
I connect with the girl from the United Arab Emirates, who must wear her hijab daily. Her eyes light up when I tell her that she looks pretty.
I connect with the Puerto Rican girl who has heinous grammar but great passion-
I tell her she’ll be a writer one day,
as I register her for my creative writing course.
I traverse the globe each day.
I learn of foreign lands, lands that I may never see.
I’m inspired by their stories; they tell me eagerly.
I listen. I have nothing to offer them but an ear and a smile,
And my words.
I long to be a collector of stories, from people all over the world.
When I’m done teaching,
I shall work to satisfy my wanderlust, and meet people.
And never stop connecting and learning.