Halfway around the world and back again

MIRANDA BROOKWELL / Youth Correspondent

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” – Don Williams Jr.

I adore travel of any kind, but I have always found air travel to be my favourite. The humming of the engines always lulls me to sleep in an hour or less, but while I’m awake I enjoy the feeling of taking off and ascending into the clouds. If I’m lucky enough to get a window seat, I glance down at the world below me shrinking away as familiar, solid ground is no longer under my feet. Perhaps that is what I enjoy most – the uncertainty of entering new territory, whether it be airspace or city streets.

Travelling allows for such fantastic people watching, as well. I always think to myself, “Why are they travelling?” or “Where is their final destination?” Some people look so happy on buses or planes and enjoy lively conversation with their neighbours, while others put headphones on and relax in solitude for the duration of the trip. While on a plane, I’ll admit that a chatty neighbor is my idea of utter torment, but at the same time, having such an excellent opportunity to meet new people is a real privilege. There’s something so cool about having a conversation and learning things about a total stranger that you will most likely never see again in your lifetime. A fleeting moment of time well spent.

Imagine how grateful I am to be able to enjoy the full travel experience with my friends and peers. What I’m talking about is the Broncs World Tour Europe trip that Ponoka Composite High School runs yearly. I cannot even explain how excited I am to set out on an adventure to destinations I’ve only ever seen in pictures or movies. Germany, Switzerland, and Italy – across the vast Atlantic and farther away from home than I’ve ever been before. I’m breathless to experience such a new world first-hand. When I manage to get my mind off of Swiss chocolate, I look forward to the scenery and the people I’ll meet.

However, the trip is not only for personal enjoyment, but also education and remembrance. During our journey we will be visiting the grave sites of two soldiers from the Ponoka area, as well as countless graves of Canadian soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.

Freedoms such as being able to travel to formerly Axis countries without the worry of falling bombshells. Freedoms that allow us to truly enjoy not only our world, but the variety of people and cultures within it. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to remember those soldiers, as well as proud that my school participates in such a noble activity.

Those of us attending the World Tour have completed assignments and made presentations on lessons that covered everything from First World War events to how the airline industry and tourism industry function. We now have some great background knowledge on where we will be visiting, the historic events that have taken place there, and even what to expect when we travel through different countries. So really, it’s not just a quick sign up and some payments – we’ve had to work for our spots on this trip. It makes me feel really great that we will be able to represent our school and country in such a positive way now that we actually know how to be well-behaved tourists.

We’ll certainly be busy during our 11-day trip, moving from place to place and taking everything in, but I know that I can speak on behalf of my fellow students and say that it will be amazing, and possibly a once in a lifetime experience for many of us. We’ll meet people and see things that will change perspectives, opinions, and prejudices. It will be a truly liberating experience. A combination of work and play will make for a trip that no one will ever forget, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it when I return.