Exchange students realize in moments like these that we must accept and shoulder our country entirely, without the luxury of being able to select which histories or stereotypes we agree with. We do, however, have the opportunity to present a fresh new image of our nation to the people we encounter, one which is more resolute than a textbook’s content or a vendetta’s hate. My experience in Cambodia was the first time my nationality has caused tangible disdain, and for that I am glad, since this experience will allow me to return to America with a deeper sense of identity and stronger motivation to aspire to a high level of humanity.
Zak Aldridge is a junior at Milford Central School. To read more from him, visit eightabovetheequator.wordpress.com.