Wednesday, October 27

Kirk Henderson

When I was ten years old, I learned how to teleport. Not through any kind of device or magic ability and not even through a portal or a million dollars. I learned how to teleport when I hopped in a car, plane, bus, or train to who-knows-where and learned about life afterwards. I learned how to teleport when I learned how to travel.

I met travelling as a boy, where I would fly to Atlanta, Georgia from my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. I was an unaccompanied minor. Being an unaccompanied minor taught me two things:

  1. Travel is a monster.
  2. Unaccompanied travel is a special kind of monster.

I must note that not every monster is the bad kind of monster. Many of them, travel included, are interesting, nuanced, and complex. Travel is a monster because it forced me to see the world in a new way, even if I didn’t want to. Unaccompanied travel made me do that all by myself. Like other young boys, I was excited, stressed, and antsy at the idea of learning how to teleport, especially on my own. Going to Georgia was the beginning, but I followed that up with Florida, New York, Virginia, the Carolinas, Louisiana, and, more recently, Utah and Illinois. Each travelling experience I’ve had, varied and complicated in their own special ways, taught me how to do something new.

Travelling internationally taught me how to be somewhere new. Driving across the border to Canada where, on separate occasions, I visited the cities of Ottawa, Kingston, and Toronto. Each city taught me something new about life, language, community, and race and these experiences have inspired my drive to travel even more. With that motivation, I decided to study abroad in Burgos, Spain. My experiences studying abroad showed me new ways of feeling, thinking, and speaking. While sitting along the tide of San Sebastian and eating paella in the heart of downtown Burgos, my world was transformed and my life, in that instance, was changed.

Travelling has been the foundation for my intellectual curiosity and artistic invention. Staring at the mountains in Salt Lake City, Utah made me wonder how such a sunny place can have snow-tipped mountains. Listening to the different ways people spoke in London, my experiences made me think about more about dialects, speech, and communication between people.

When I was a kid, travelling made me feel like I was teleporting. Now, being a tourist, for me, means teleporting. When I travel, I go from one place to another and transform my environment entirely. Although not instant, the feeling is magical. I hope to find these feelings in Japan, Egypt, South Africa, Italy and many other locations because of their beauty, culture, and amazing opportunities for tourism. I have had the privilege to be able to travel and I hope to do so the rest of my life. Doing so has taught me about life, love, and intercultural communication. Travelling has made me the person I am today. Through even more travelling (and teleporting!) I’ll become who I want to be in the future.

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