The trip of a lifetime

My name is Starr Lewis. I’m 17 years old and will be a senior this fall at Pritzker College Prep, a campus of the Noble Network of Charter Schools. This summer, I went on a trip to China with a group of students and teachers from my school. I participated in this trip because I saw the opportunity was open for all students, and I couldn’t think of a reason not to take advantage of a planned trip out the country. I wanted to experience life beyond my own in the U.S., and I have always been fascinated by other countries’ native languages. Going to China was just the beginning of experiences I have been curious about for so long.

Traveling is more than just visiting somewhere you have never been before; travelling is experiences and memories of a world beyond the one you are used to. In China, I learned their culture and political history about their past presidents and emperors is especially celebrated. Beijing has many tourist sites, like at the Forbidden City or Tiananmen Square, that show how much the government and former leaders are respected. They’re very family oriented, from family-style meals to the generational homes that get passed down from ancestors to current generations.

This was my first time out of the country, so my expectations were high, but I was never disappointed. As we toured different sites, I noticed that everyone has this work ethic that is loyal and determined. They all have one job: To make ends meet to support themselves and the ones they love.

One thing you will not forget anywhere you go outside the U.S. is how grateful you become for your own life and to live in the United States. We learned that not every part of Beijing was rainbows and unicorns, but every part of Beijing had a story behind it. Which, to me, is the beauty in this city and the country of China as a whole. There is so much history in this city, so much beauty in the way the people respect and treasure their history and culture. Visiting the Buddhist temple opened my eyes to the loyalty and dedication in this religion. I fell in love with the experience of being in a different country and getting my first stamp on my passport.

I would not have had this experience if it wasn’t for the teachers and staff that donated to our fundraisers. Thank you to the Pritzker faculty for the financial support, and especially to those who chaperoned and willingly volunteered to take on all the responsibilities of planning and administering this trip.