Over the past few months, the college search process has taken me around the country to visit schools in several different states. From the cornfields of Indiana to the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, I’ve gotten a glimpse of the beauty and variety existing elsewhere in the United States, and with my limited Midwestern worldview, it never fails to blow my mind. It’s often difficult for me to envision others leading their lives with people and places so different from the only ones I have ever known, simply because I have yet to truly break out of the familiar and see the world.
There are so many reasons I’m excited for college, and one of the biggest ones is the opportunity to see the world beyond Geneva. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it here, and regardless of which school I choose, I will miss my town and the Tri-Cities greatly. However, I also know there is more in store for me outside of the Geneva bubble, whether it’s meeting new people or getting transformative opportunities. Even so, I know that next year’s new home will only provide a tiny glimpse into everything that’s out there.
In my head, I am fully aware that the world is so much larger than I can comprehend. I learn about European culture in my French class; I pay attention to news headlines about global issues; and I’ve even traveled internationally and experienced different lifestyles first-hand. Yet from day to day, I often lose sight of the magnitude of the world around me, remaining trapped in the mindset that my comfortable suburban life is all there is.
I guess sometimes, it’s simpler that way, particularly when my part of the world seems more comfortable or safe than other areas. Especially considering recent events, from natural disasters to terrorist attacks, it can be all too easy to look the other way and focus instead on whatever relatively trivial issues I may be facing. My desire to see the world and experience new things is often tempered by a fear of the unknown and a hesitancy to acknowledge all the devastation occurring elsewhere.
So what, then, does it mean to be part of the whole world and not just one small segment of it? It means I can appreciate all the wonderful things about living in an affluent Midwestern community, but that I must also broaden my perspective to realize not everyone lives that way. It means I should recognize the beautiful things about different parts of America and other countries, from their diversity to their unique cultures. It means I need to support those struggling in other parts of the world, because there is no point in feigning obliviousness just for the sake of my own comfort. As a matter of fact, I think the greatest growth occurs when we let go of our preconceived notions and limited perspectives in hopes of experiencing all the amazing things this world has to offer.
Geneva is merely one tiny fraction of the globe, and college, although a slightly bigger fraction, still can’t provide a full picture of our world. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t try to continually improve my understanding and appreciation of the world around me. By stepping out of my comfort zone and seeking a broader worldview, I hope to see the world through new eyes and ultimately become a better part of it.
Emma Chrusciel is a senior at Geneva High School. In addition to writing, she loves Broadway musicals, playing piano, and spending time with her family and friends. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.