Grade 11 – Leland and Gray
“The instant I arrived at the airport in Hartford and fell into the arms of my crying mother, I was asked, "How was it?" and my mind immediately blanked. I was trying desperately to think of something succinct yet poetic about how to describe this journey, but I soon realized that I couldn't say anything fitting -- not even the simplest of words could truly describe what I had experienced.
How does one put a fitting adjective to describe a month spent with people, most of whom I barely knew prior to being accepted into Journey East, who became my closest friends by the end of the program? Or how to describe the exhilaration of being on stage performing for thousands of people and hearing cheers from the audience once I uttered the first word of my solo in a song? Meeting three English-speaking people on the Great Wall after hearing nothing but Chinese spoken by anyone except the members of our group, bonding with someone who you share few common interests with while having the barrier of language right in front of your face as you try to communicate with her otherwise, singing with the 35 best singers out of a population of 33 million people, or getting lost on a college campus where no one else spoke fluent English (or any English at all)? All of this in the midst of unfamiliar senses: new sights, unusual sounds, distinct tastes and smells that will never be forgotten. Is there a way to sum all of this into a few short words that would have to be repeated to the many people who think that a treasure like this experience can be unlocked by asking those three simple words: "How was it?"
It really doesn't do a justice to say that this adventure was great, amazing, awesome, incredible, or even "indescribable by words". Even that last placeholder phrase is just a placeholder; the only way anyone could grasp the magnitude of any part of this journey would be for him/her to go there and experience these events firsthand.”