“The Impact of Exposure at an Early Age”
“Less than four weeks ago, I was left mesmerized by a five-hundred-foot-tall cathedral in the heart of Cologne, Germany, my reverie completely unbroken. Overlooking sun-washed rooftops under somber skies, the clouds billowed their dull, wintry gloom as fresh pre-spring waters rose over the city. The murky river glided into the horizon, passing the arch bridge which resembled a trail of skipping stones. I walked through cobblestone streets as the light posts whispered to the walls beside them. Tongue-twisters of dulcet umlauts and harsh R’s rung poetically in my ears while my nose was pervaded by an unfamiliar ambiance intertwined with bakeries, German rain, and crippled cigars–it had been awhile since I last satisfied my wanderlust, and it was all so surreal.
My name is Roberto Osorio, and I am fifteen years old. Days before my travels to Cologne, Germany from McFarland, California, I never would have imagined that I’d be halfway across the world, joined by some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. Before participating as a 2017 NetWings Corp. Delegate, I was a small-town, daydreamer with a little less ardor and a weaker grasp of important global and social issues. In many ways, my recent travels have been both thought-provoking and transformative, offering me a series of invaluable lessons I am hopeful to use in the near future.
Needless to say, I have come to realize that our generation faces an obstacle; an absence in the effort to self-exert and enlighten ourselves to opportunities and revelations not only in our backyards, but throughout the world. We’ve become a generation in which we are often unable to bring about intellectually stimulating conversations over particular issues because of the division, unfamiliarity, or discomfort that the unknown may challenge. A generation in which, when our teachers ask us how many are aware of government tyranny, oppression, or the deprivation of human rights, to which only a few reply.
We are a generation fueled with potential. We are generation electrified with competence. But we need to find an outlet.We will only begin to gain a sense of global awareness, to think freely and critically, if we are given the opportunity to understand, to see, and to experience the world. Selected as a NetWings Corp Delegate, I traveled to Cologne, Germany in March, 2017. Over the course of a week, I acquired amiable friendships with students from throughout the world. In doing so, I feel as if I have discovered colors I have never seen before; emotions I have never felt before.
Weeks before I had left for Cologne, Germany, my friends and family would persistently ask, “So, what are you going to bring me from Germany?” I remember telling them not to worry, I promised I’d bring them each something.As we landed in Cologne, Germany, I soon began to realize that the experiences we would collect would be much more important than any souvenir I could bring back home with me. Throughout the following week, we spent our days venturing through the city, obtaining the information for our research, discussing the outline of our case study in homely cafés, all the while unknowingly growing as individuals. We attended the World Business Dialogue Conference where a panel of renowned Economists, Politicians, and CEOs discussed the way their actions as leaders would help augment posterity.
In learning from these experts, I have begun to reflect on the connections between these leaders, and the culture of their people, only to realize all I have ever known is my own culture. It wasn’t until my experiences alongside NetWings Corp, that I began to understand and comprehend my culture through a different lens, by understanding the customs and values of others. In familiarizing myself with Russians, Taiwanese, Germans, Argentinians, Africans, Indians, the list goes on, I was able to comprehend how we share a similar ambition to integrate ourselves into society while remaining intact with the ingenuity of our own culture rendered proudly on our chests. What had once felt like a great disconnect, now connected with great ease and understanding. I felt one with my planet, and one with people.
My travels to Cologne, Germany as a NetWings Corp delegate are the beginning of a great endeavor. My unexpected journey to another place, has sparked a yearning for more, It’s my hope to continue this endeavor, not only within my own life, but amongst the lives of many other youths—this time, I’ll remind myself to not forget about the souvenirs.