During the first part, I described my big learning experience on the bus ride to Chile. Now, I will talk about my favorite experience In Chile, which is meeting and learning about a French-Portuguese-Chilean family.
Once we arrived at Santiago, Chile, we checked in into our hostel, got settled, talked to our family for the Holidays, and then went to bed. The next day, we decided to explore Santiago city. Since we learned the value of asking questions and asking for help, we asked our hostel about the best places to visit and explore. We got tips on where to eat, what to see, and how to get there. We used the subway and bus system to get to the main plaza and the Baha’i Temple.
On our way up to the Baha’i Temple, we met a Portuguese and French family living in Chile. The public bus dropped us off at the bottom of a hill, and to get to the temple, it was a thirty minute walk uphill. Fortunately, a mother and two girls saw us and let us catch a ride up to the temple with them. They were the reason why I had an unforgettable experience. Mariam, one of the daughters, stayed with us during the whole tour. It turns out that her father oversaw the construction of the temple, and every week she and her family goes up to help give tours. I learned a lot. I learned about the Baha’i religion, Mariam and her family, and the greatness in humanity. It sounds cheesy to say or hear, but it is true. Had we not taken a chance on asking Mariam and her family for a ride up to the temple, we would not have learned about a modern religion and a kind-hearted family. Jenessa and I sat down with Mariam and her family to talk and simply learn about one another. Her mother brought us cake, that Mariam’s sister baked, and water as we discussed our schools, our cultural background, and our family histories. We were on top of a mountain that overlooked Santiago city and next to a temple discussing our lives. It was purely a beautiful experience.
When I asked Mariam’s mother why they are so kind to strangers, like me and Jenessa, she said, “When I imagine my children traveling the world and learning about other cultures, I think of all the kind people they will meet. This is how I would want my children to be treated.”
From that, I could not help but feel grateful for the life the I have. I am fortunate. I must admit that there are plenty of times in my travels when I get called out for looking Asian or acting American. Americans do not have the best impressions in other countries. We are known as loud and chaotic. As an Asian in South America, I get called out as coming from China or eating dogs. There are all these stereotypes that could have dejected this beautiful family from giving me and Jenessa a ride up to the temple, but they did so anyways. In fact, they went beyond kind gestures and took the time to get to know us and share a part of their life with us. For this, I can confidently say that I am beyond blessed. I always encounter beautiful people with kind and giving hearts. I am always surrounded with greatness, and it encourages me to be kind to the world. It encourages me to spread good deeds, smiles, and kind gestures.
My biggest takeaway from meeting Mariam and her family is to not judge people based on categories. Yes, appearances are big indicators on where people are from, but they can be deceiving on people’s character traits. Because of Mariam and her family, I vowed to work on making snap judgments and to go out of my way to meet people and hear their stories. It is one of the most beautiful privileges of life, and from now on, I will take advantage of it.