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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From teenagers to young adults

I am standing on a platform...this time not looking towards my own future, but looking back to those years when life seemed to move sooo slow.  Nowadays, today is tomorrow and life passes through your eyes in a flash!! You look at the mirror and the signs of aging appear everyday and your face shows the crevices of time. I can almost feel that my mind could be a prisoner of my body... So much energy inside and so much to give from who I am...yet I know that it is just not the same as before!  I look at my memories and I can still give so much more!..  Just a bunch of feelings and a lot of revival, when I am around young people.  I revive my yesterday by looking and enjoying my conversations with them.  I think I understand better why I was that way and why are they that way.  I understand them better still, now, because I can learn from my errors and my present and know beforehand what is going around and what will come around.
So much said, because I wanted to explain my feelings about this week's visit of my teenage nephew and his friends.  It doesn't cease to amaze me, how fast they learn, how much they can do in such a short time, how long can they walk, no matter how much weight they carry and which ways they can go. They walk through the streets of this vast space, of this metropoli which is NY; and their tastebuds, and all the rest of their senses are invaded by an array of wonderful sensations: awe...amazement...so much to embrace in such a short time.  They want to see it all...God knows when they can return.  I still remember my first time, when I was twelve, and came with grandma for three months..  That's when I climb to my platform and look back at that world.  So much different than today, but still as new as it is for my newly adopted niece and nephews. I wanted to remember for as long as possible that world (when I was twelve) in which at that time I never thought I would be able to live again...and in which I never imagined I would live longer than where I lived in those days. You never know what life has stored for you!!!
They came to NY upon my insistence that they needed a vacation from their hard work in the exchange student program in Colorado. They registered in an attractive program  which is called Work and Travel, of a company called Universal Student Exchange....USE, designed for college and recently graduated students.  Come to say in simple words, this is just a job seeker agency which is used by the winter resorts and hotels around the US, to hire minimum wage workers for hard and exhausting  jobs which young people are willling to do in exchange for the thrill of traveling to a different country, meeting other guys of their same age and overall, I think, getting away from the family conventional rules and being able to live for three months on their own. Their families pay around 2,000 dollars which comprehend about 1,000 dollars in registration fees for the program, around 400 in paperwork, inmigration rights english aptitude tests, and the rest in airline transportation. Upon arrival, most of them are responsible of rent and food expenses and even though the program has strict rules and they go to preparation seminars, they still are on their own and not well supervised.  Parents have come to think that this new "opportunity" or vogue is part of their children's education..to let them see the world, get to know other cultures and learn to be responsible.  To tell you the truth...I have mixed feelings.  I see it as one more business in which every agency which participates in the transaction gets a piece of the cake, to their best advantage.  The money the kids get goes unto living and traveling expenses... besides, not everyone has the money to even dare want to enroll in such a program...some make sacrifices to please their children or make them feel as part of the privileged ones...the ones that get to see a different world.  After having this experience, most of them don't want to come back. They get better advantage from reasonably paid internship summer jobs related to their professional background, in which they have no fees to pay in order to be able to work.

I am so satisfied that we were able to give them the idea and opportunity to really savor some of  US culture and come for four days to this great city which is NY.  They have an energy drive which never ceased to amaze me since the very first day they came.  Walking, learning, shopping and having "real food" at their table when they came home every night, brought so much input to their thrive for getting to know other culture!  I guess they were able to meet their expectations.  As I said, for me, it was a fresh revival of my younger years!!!