When I was six years old my family made the big trip to Disney World in Florida; the trip that every kid never forgets. The most memorable part for me was the exhibit where you swirl around a magical world on a small boat while the song “It’s a Small World After All” plays. As a six year old the song just didn’t make sense to me because in my view the world was just a huge playground ready to be explored! I thought the 100 foot walk to my best friend’s house in my neighborhood was a large distance, so the idea of this world being seen as “small” was just preposterous to my young mind. To this day I still see the world as a massive complex network of people and places, but these past two weeks have shown me how interconnected this world really is.
The first connection I was able to make was meeting up with my previous University of Richmond roommates, Aileen and Rayna. They are studying abroad in Germany and Denmark respectively, and this past weekend we all met up in Prague. I really had to step back and reflect on this because it truly is amazing how out of 6 billion people in the world and even more opportunities, somehow the three of us were able to all come together and meet in a new country which we had never explored before. How cool is that!?! I loved being able to visit some of my closest friends and create meaningful memories with them.
While in Prague, the three of us went on a tour of the city. While on the tour my friend Rayna was approached by an individual in the group who ended up being a friend from her grade school! This just blew my mind because again even in a world so big we are still so interconnected.
My favorite part of Prague was visiting the Pinkas Synagogue which holds pictures drawn by children during the Holocaust. Through these pictures visitors could see the children’s fears, hopes, desires, and prayers. The thing that struck me that most about these pictures, though, was the fact that even though these children were enduring unimaginable pain and loss, they always drew the Jewish people with a smile on their faces and frowns on their perpetrators. I was moved by their ability to see such hope and happiness despite the pain they had endured.
After visiting the Jewish district in Prague, I decided that this weekend I wanted to explore Budapest’s Jewish District in order to draw parallels between these two countries. On this tour I began to see all these connections between the countries I have visited and these connections have really opened my mind to how interconnected our world truly is. For instance, in the 19th century Austria came to “liberate” Hungary and bring Catholicism to their people. The ruler of Austria during this time was the Habsburg family. When I visited Austria, I was able to visit the Habsburg palace. What I found interesting was during the Jewish District tour in Budapest the tour guide was very negative about the Habsburg family and discussed their blatant discrimination against Jews. However, while in Austria, the people spoke highly of the wealth and power of the Habsburg family. It really goes to show you how skewed history can be. This idea reminds me of the quote”“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” By traveling to different countries I have had the oppertunity to see different countries prospectives on the same historical events. I able to draw my own connections between people and places and begin to feel even more connected to this beautiful and expansive world.