The day was grim, but the atmosphere was charged. As he and his family drove to the airport, in their 2016 Chevrolet Equinox, Brenden was beyond excited. The murky grey skies didn’t dampen his mood. He had been waiting for this day — for what seemed like an eternity. Second after second passed by, an incomprehensible annoyance. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the Chevrolet pulled up to the small airport. Hugs and goodbyes were exchanged. And then in an instant– as if a bullet being fired from a handgun, Brenden was free. It was time for his adventure. The adventure that would end up changing his life forevermore.
Brenden’s family is a typical American middle class family living in Massachusetts. His mother is a nurse at the local Children’s Hospital, while his father owns and operates a car dealership. Brenden has one younger brother, named Connor, who is thirteen years old. All of his life, Brenden longed for something more than this. He longed for change, difference, he wanted to see and travel the world. Brenden begged his mother year after year for her permission to travel abroad. That is why he almost couldn’t believe it when she finally caved in and said yes.
And so on this murky day, Brenden was happier than a child on Christmas that got everything they had put on their list. He handed over his iPhone — his connection to the world and hopped aboard a plane. While most kids would have been scared to arrive in this unknown land, Brenden was beyond excited. All the years of begging, the letters to receive scholarships, this was the moment he had been waiting for his entire life.
No matter how powerful an imagination, Brenden could’ve never imagined what he would experience in China. Brenden was staying in an extremely poor region of China. Around him, he saw a situation that most Americans could not cope with.
“They covered me with their one quilt and tucked me in every night, just like all their other children.”
Brenden fell in love with that dirt floor. The atmosphere that engulfed these people and their family.
“They were the happiest people I have ever met, even though they had nothing.”
Brenden learned their philosophy’s, routines, attempted to learn their language (somewhat failing), but most importantly, he learned their love.
Although they did not speak the same language, his host family was his family. Love is a great power. It exists within all of us. Love and happiness is contagious. These people, they never focused on the negative aspects throughout their life, instead, they focused on the happiness. Humanity is so much more than race, origin, language, or philosophy. Humanity is a connection that we all with one another. Throughout his journey, Brenden was able to discover himself. He was able to let go of all the hard feelings that he had previously filled his heart. All the negativity that had existed in his life was washed away by the love of the Chinese people, who so graciously took him in and treated him like their own. Tucking him in with their only extra quilt to keep him warm at night. Feeding him food from their land, that they had to obtain on their own. Brenden found himself forgetting about his old life, surrounded with his host family’s love.
When Brenden returned to America, his family’s routine seemed just as foreign to him as his family in China. Sitting on the couch for dinner seemed just as strange as his host family trading their family cow for a goat.
Life is too short to pass up these experiences.
“Traveling has changed my view on everything. The people in China had literally nothing. They made the equivalent of about two US dollars a year. But they were the happiest people I have ever met.”
You don’t need anything to be happy, you just need each other. Traveling has made Brenden wise beyound his years.
Adventure and curiosity are human nature, but so is fear. Humans are attracted to home, because it is what they know. What so many people forget to realize is there is so much more to see and learn in this world. There is so much more than what you simply know. As Brenden arrived off the plane, the familiar warmth of his mother’s, father’s and brother’s arms wrapping around his body welcomed him home, with lots of tears. The boy that stepped onto that plane, is no longer the same boy. He may look the same, sound the same, smile the same, but he has seen the world.
Brenden hopes that others can also have a similar experience to his. It is for that reason, that at the Newman School, he and a fellow classmate have started a group called The Newman Nomads. This is a group that will travel the country, visiting places in need of service or help. He hopes that these experiences will help people see the bigger picture. Brenden’s story did not end when he arrived home from china, it began. Now, all the love that the Chinese people filled his heart with, is spreading like wildfire.
Story written by Molly Jones.