A girl on a mission
When Rebecca was 12, she visited France for three weeks. She returned when she was 16 and spent the school year as an exchange student. At 17 she went to Sweden as an exchange student. Now 18, she is sitting in our dining room, having just returned from India, where she went as part of a Rotary International Cultural Exploration Youth Camp.
“The streets are a cacophony of activity,” she said of India. “Families live on the street with dogs and cows, and horns are used for everything. I had to go to the hospital. It was only a mosquito bite, but I needed antibiotics. I would not like to have anything serious happen to me in India. I don’t mean to criticize, but…”
“You just would prefer going to a hospital here, right? Nothing wrong with that,” I said.
“I work very hard every day to not be judgmental about how other people live,” she said.
“Rebecca, was there one event that jumps out at you?” I asked.
“Yes, they took us to a factory. They make sinks and toilets. We wore masks, but the workers didn’t wear masks. And the workers were bare-footed. I started to be angry, but being angry isn’t going to help, or being a “hater” doesn’t help either. Instead, maybe someday I’ll be able to do something about it.”
“Rebecca, let me ask you, you travel so much, do you have any friends?” I asked.
“I have loads of friends, and I stay in touch because I don’t want our friendship to fade,” she answered. “I ask my friends to put their phones face down when we’re together. I stare at them until they do. I force my stories on them. It’s just not possible to understand the wider world unless you see it. If you stay in your own backyard, you just don’t get it.”
What a talk we had. Rebecca has much more than youthful idealism — she has character, and without character, you’re just an opportunist. She would like to work in the United Nations after she graduates from college. I sure hope it works out.