April Jeppson: Take the chance to see the world when you can 

Published 8:46 pm Friday, May 13, 2022

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

I just read something this morning that encouraged youth to move out of their hometown. It didn’t say you had to move away and stay there, but just get out for a bit. It talked about how, even if you only leave for a few months/years and ultimately return, your view of the world will be permanently expanded. I couldn’t agree more.

April Jeppson

When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to travel with my family. Having an aunt who lived out in Virginia allowed us an opportunity to visit and go see the government and historical sites nearby. I was in elementary school after one such trip and had to give a report on Jamestown and the University of William and Mary. Even as a child I realized that seeing these places firsthand helped me to better understand the events that happened there.

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Beyond that, I also saw my first homeless person. My young mind had so many questions and concerns. It was a great opportunity for my parents to teach me some sad realities of our world. It also softened my heart and opened my mind to the concept that there are people who don’t have homes or enough food to eat.

The summer between my junior and senior year, I was an exchange student in Finland. This was different than walking by the Lincoln Memorial or watching a battle reenactment. With this experience I truly understood how different my upbringing and culture was in comparison with others from another country. For example, a typical breakfast for me growing up was a bowl of cereal. However, when I was living with my host family, the best way to describe their first meal of the day was a breakfast charcuterie. Pieces of small firm bread served with an assortment of sliced meats, cheese, eggs, cucumber and tomato. It took me a few days to understand that there were no Frosted Flakes coming, but I grew to love these nutrient-dense open face sandwiches.

Although there were many differences, there were obvious similarities. Walking alone through the streets of Helsinki, I could not understand most of what the signage in front of the buildings said. But I didn’t need to. Through the windows of the shops, I could easily tell what type of merchandise was being sold. At a kiosk I could point to an item and pay without hardly having to use a word because there is a universal language of gestures and facial expressions that stretches across borders.

I could go on and on about how much I grew mentally, spiritually and emotionally by continuing to travel and visit new places after I graduated. I could talk about the lifelong friendships I’ve made, or the recipes I’ve acquired. I could even show you a nice collection of items I’ve brought back and tell you stories about each one. But those are stories for another day. Today as we are getting close to graduation, I congratulate all of those that have “made it.” In addition, I strongly encourage all of you to not stop here, keep going. Keep learning, keep exploring and don’t forget to come back and visit. 

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.