English Short Story
By damgif, Updated
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Hi. My name is Damien Gifford. I was 11 years old when I first went to Europe with my grandparents. I was changing schools in the fall, I wasn’t open to new experiences, and I hated trying anything outside of my comfort zone. I knew what I liked and didn’t want to do or try anything else.
Suddenly I couldn’t find any food I liked (except for the Italian restaurant down the street from the hotel that served very good nachos.) I had to walk everywhere or I had to learn to take public transportation, two things I never did back home.
I met family I didn’t know I had. I also spent a lot of time with religion professors from all over the world who lived differently than I did. They had different backgrounds but I shared a common faith with them. I found that they talked with me and accepted me even though I was only a kid.
I also saw the Anne Frank house and it scared me to think some kid actually had to live like this just to end up dying.
Next we went to Paris.
I was awed by the Louvre, where I saw Hammurabi's Code, Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Egyptian exhibit. It triggered in me a love of history that I still have. Paris also showed my how young our country is and how old civilization is.
Next we went to Belgium, where we stayed in an antique hotel, across the street from a church where Father Damien, a Catholic saint, was buried. In Leuven, everyone knew the name Damien, although they pronounced it differently.
My grandparents had a friend who had an 11 year old son. I spent the day with him, playing video games and going to a playground with a bunch of his friends, none of whom spoke English. Even though we couldn’t actually understand each other we had a good time and played a lot of the same games as I played at home.
When I came home I was more self-confident, I was more open to new ideas and situations, and I appreciated what I had. The experience made me see a bigger world outside of myself. And I realized that there were lots of people who believed in God differently than I did but they, too, were Christians. My world got bigger, my life got bigger, and my God got bigger.
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