(This is an essay that I wrote for my ENG-111 class at Virginia Western)
I believe that people are people, no matter how different they may seem at first. I believe that people, no matter where they live, what language they speak, or what their background they possess, ultimately have the same thoughts, feelings, joys, and needs.
This summer, I went on a missions trip to Poland with my church. On this missions trip, I met a variety of people. At first, most of these people seemed radically different from me. They didn't look like me, they spoke a language that was foreign, and they ate strange food. But, during the week we were there, and as our team ate with them, played with them, and talked with them through translators, I made a discovery. Despite our seemingly radical differences, we actually had a lot in common.
One of the most powerful ways of relating our team had was through sports. The majority of the time we were in Poland was spent in a small village called Szaflary. Over the course of the week, we played hours upon hours of soccer (fütból) with the people of that village. During these games, our relationships with the people grew exponentially. At the beginning of the week, when we met on the field, there were awkward handshakes all around. By day number two, handshakes had turned into fist bumps, and by the end of the week, we were sharing brotherly hugs with this group of people that we had just met several days prior. I believe that the joy of sporting and the human need for companionship allowed our team to transcended the language barrier and build meaningful relationships across cultures.
Another way our team connected with the villagers was through music. Music has been called the “Universal Language”, and this proved to be true once again. During our time in Poland, we sang many songs with the people of Szaflary. Some of the songs they sang, we knew the lyrics to, and vice versa. We would sing along with each other when we could, and sit and listen quietly when we couldn't. I cannot describe the incredible sense of connection and community that I felt as I stood singing those worship songs while the person next to me sang along in another language . Once again, the music was something that both our team, and the villagers could understand on a deeper level than language.
Although similar joys are a powerful point of connection, I believe that similar needs connect us all on an even deeper level. Joys may change, but needs do not. Needs such as family, friends, food, and shelter are universal to all people, no matter their position in life. Overall, I believe the greatest need is to have purpose in one's life. I believe I have found that purpose, and it is my desire to use my life to share it with as many people as possible.