The “It’s a Small World” ride in Disney World has always been one of my favorites. I know, I know….the song can make you crazy as it plays on repeat, the representations of different cultures are stereotypical and homogenous, the dolls, some would say, “creepy”. But, I LOVE IT! I loved it when I was 9 years old visiting Disney for the first time, and I love it still.
“It’s a Small World” reminds me of the connectedness people share with each other, the similarities in our lives, the love, laughter, and joy we all experience. This strange little ride that annoys everyone in my family but me, reminds me the world is a beautiful place despite all the hardship.
My real, non-Disney themed world filled with laughter and joy last week. It was a big moment for USA citizens as we inaugurated a new president. Regardless of who we voted for, we had the opportunity to watch democracy in action through a beautiful celebration of our country’s values, traditions and spirit as it was announced, sung, and spoken into existence. It was a moment to fill our American hearts with pride. The inauguration was American pomp and circumstance on full display with gentle, beautiful reminders of our cultural identity. It reminded us of what we can be proud of and what we hope to become. It was a day of light-filled hope, promise, and joy in the midst of our dark, cold, pandemic-directed life.
Last Wednesday, as I watched the tradition of a new President and Vice President taking on their new roles surrounded by past Presidents, Senators and celebrities from all walks of life, my first reaction was to cry. My second reaction was to send private messages to our exchange family all over the world. “New beginnings here in the USA today” I wrote. And within minutes, I was receiving messages back. “So happy for you!” “Hooray!” “Good news!”
Ours is a privileged life no doubt. We are blessed with communication tools that allow me to send photos and messages in real time across the world with virtually no effort. But beyond the privilege of technology, the very real blessing that sustains me are the relationships we share with our friends and family we met by chance. These are the relationships gathered from cultural exchange begun because we welcomed an international teen into our home and heart. These relationships endure constraints of time and distance. They endure hardships, like pandemics and travel bans. They endure and exist to fill our lives with laughter and joy. They remind me we are a small world after all.
Choose to make your world a little smaller. Host an exchange student with: Academic Year in America