In 1996 I joined a small group of medical personnel on a trip to Mexico. We worked in Morelia, a small village in Chiapas. One day I had some free time and sat out on the soccer field, writing in my journal. A gaggle of young boys came running through the field, shouting, “Vamos, vamos.” I barely spoke Spanish, but knew enough that they were encouraging me to join them. I was intrigued, but apprehensive as there was still a shadow of rebel activity looming over the region. Then I noted two women from a human rights organization in the group; I picked up my belongings and ran along. After a brief trek, we came to a small pond, where the boys stripped down and jumped in. I hadn’t planned for a swim, but joined them, fully dressed. One of the boys paddled up to me, held my hand up in the air, and announced to the crowd, “Todos somos amigos!” -- “We are all friends!” It was a golden moment in my life. I realized that travel can connect you to others despite age gaps, cultural contrasts, and language barriers, and although our daily existences occupy different worlds, we all belong to one world.
By LT Nguyen
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