When I saw that our layover was in Rome, I couldn’t have been more excited! Even though I know we would be stuck in the airport for 2 hours it’s still Rome right? Our first layover was in Miami and we flew Alitalia and I guess I didn’t realize that we were flying an Italian airline so I was shocked when a majority of the flight was not in English. It was so weird to not have my native language be the primary language but I know a little Italian so I could tell what was going on for the most part. It was nice (and refreshing) to be reminded that not everyone in the world values English over everything else.
Of course, I had a middle seat right between two older men. They spoke very little English but they were super kind! One of the men was more talkative than the other and he asked me if I was moving to Rome. I told him that I was only going to Rome for a layover and that Serbia was my final destination. He looked so concerned and a little confused when I told and immediately asked “Do you parents feel safe with you going to Serbia?” I tried to explain to him that I was going with a group from my school (we weren’t sitting together so I looked like a lone traveler) but something got lost in translation and he was convinced that I was going to Serbia to meet up with a foreign lover. The flight itself wasn’t bad and the 9 hours went by quickly. It was a mixture of watching movies, trying to sleep sandwiched between two men, and feeling really fancy that I was able to order wine on the plane with no ID.
We landed at Fiumicino Airport and I immediately started saying “Ahhh, it feels so good to be in the city of Rome!” Of course I was saying it a bit sarcastically since we couldn’t actually leave the airport. Fiumicino was literally like a high-end mall so it was easy to forget that we were in an airport. We found a nice coffee shop to give us somewhat of an authentic Italian experience and the cappuccino was AMAZING (and cheap). Unfortunately, the airplane food filled us up and we didn’t have the stomach space for any pizza. I can’t wait to visit Italy one day and actually visit something other than the airport. Until then, I can say that I had Italian coffee in Rome!
Zdravo priijatyelijoo! If you’re reading this that means I’m in the process of making a very long (18 hour) journey to Serbia!!! I haven’t told many people but for the next two weeks I’ll be participating in a cultural exchange with other delegates from my school. I’m so excited and thankful for such a unique way to explore Serbia. I know what most of you are thinking…. Why Serbia? I had that same exact initial thought so below I have the purpose of the program.
“We aim to build bridges between US American youth and Balkan youth through cultural immersion, fulfilling service, mutual respect, and active research with hopes to foster sustained dialogue on political, social, and economic issues.”
As Americans, we typically have no clue that countries like Serbia even exist. Our focus when it comes to Europe is centered on Western countries like France and the United Kingdom but there’s so much more to the continent than the Eiffel Tower and London Eye. Now don’t get me wrong, if you know me you know that I ADORE France but I do think its important to learn about Eastern European countries as well.
While in Serbia, of course I’ll be taking a million pictures to share with all of you! I’m also going to be keeping a journal of my experiences and hopefully transfer those into blog posts!
Peace out America!
“They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, and countless daily indignities — but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.” – Barrack Obama
Washington D.C. is without a doubt becoming one of my favorite cities! The first time I visited was on a family trip (so basically nothing but monuments and all of the touristy things you can do in 2 weeks time). It was hot, crowded, and I didn’t have much I wanted to see besides Georgetown Cupcakes and everything JFK related the city had to offer. During my most recent visits, I’ve been able to see a more authentic side of the city and I absolutely love it! From all of the international food and cute coffee shops to the sensational cultural scene, there’s so much more to D.C. than the historical landmarks and government buildings.
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I’ve found that going to school in Alabama definitely has it perks, especially when it comes to visiting historical sights. I’m guilty of placing Atlanta at the center of the Civil Rights Movement but so much happened in Birmingham and really Alabama in general. This past Sunday (also Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday), I had the privilege of attending a church service at the 16th Street Baptist Church. For those unfamiliar with the history of the 16th Street Baptist Church, in 1963 the KKK bombed the building and killed 4 little girls attending Sunday school and injured around 22 others. Today, the church stands as a National Historical Landmark and continues to have weekly services.
Being in this church reminded me just how important the role of the Church as a meeting place and Christianity itself was during the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not just a well educated activist, he also attended Crozer Theological Seminary to become a minister. We all know about his speeches and his marches but I think we often times forget that he did this with a Christian conscience. Does that mean that all of his beliefs came straight out of the Bible? Of course not. He studied numerous philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, and Locke and was influenced by the writings of Marx and the teachings of Ghandi. But he did all of this with his faith in mind. He said himself that “the Christian doctrine of love, operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence, is one of the most potent weapons available to an oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
The most important thing to take away here is that social justice and Christianity go hand in hand. We see this not just from Martin Luther King Jr.’s life but also by looking at how Jesus lived his life. He didn’t just come to preach a message of salvation, he came to help those who weren’t being helped by their governments and religious leaders. Too often today, social justice is equated with a liberal way of thinking and looked down upon in conservative circles. These same circles that look down on social justice also claim to be Christian. But Christianity is more than just going to church and living your own personal life according to what you deem to be a moral standard. God explicitly tells us we have to care about other people. As if “Love one another as I have loved you” didn’t make it clear enough:
Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
This verse was mentioned at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration service at 16th Street and it just so happens to be one of my favorite. It’s one of those verses that doesn’t need a bunch of dictionaries and interpretations to understand. God doesn’t just WANT us to act just justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, but he requires it! This doesn’t mean we all have to be out in the streets protesting and shutting down highways (because it’s not for everyone) but it does mean we have an obligation to speak up against hate speech and injustices around the world and care for those who have been overlooked or targeted by society and help in anyway we can, just like Jesus did back in his day.