In late September I left for the world championships in Novara, Italy, expecting a wonderful experience. When I arrived, it was more than I could have hoped for. Not only was I able to compete on the highest platform for the sport, but I had the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture, enlarging my understanding of others' experiences. Through my interactions with other athletes and the citizens of Italy, I not only grew as a skater but as a person.
I arrived in Milan in the morning, and after a short bus ride I checked into my room and hurried to meet up with the rest of the team, who had all gathered in one room to hang out. I was happy we all stayed in the same place; I felt like we were a team. That theme carried on throughout the championship, and I feel like I became closer to everyone. Outside of the American team I was able to reunite with old friends from Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil, India, and Taiwan. Between participating in the America's Cup and the 2013 world championship I made these friends from all over the world and stayed in touch over the years, all the while learning new things about others' cultures such as Taiwan's amazing food (they consider themselves the France of Asia) and what Mexican and Italian school is like. In addition to seeing previous acquaintances, I was able to make new friends from Germany and Australia. Sitting and getting to know people from other places has a profound effect on one's perspective. I found myself focusing less on my experience and my country's norms and opening my eyes to how many throughout the world live. Having so many cultures in one room united over a sport was truly amazing.
Outside of the venue I was excited to experience a new country firsthand. I observed how people spoke to each other, how they treated one another as well as tourists like myself, and what general life was like outside my hotel window. I can confirm that Italians really do talk with their hands, even on the phone. I found most everybody to be fairly easy going, pleasant,and genuinely helpful. When we needed directions, we just asked and somebody would happily oblige. One time coming out of a train station there was a man selling tickets for a tour bus. Even though we declined from buying anything he still told us where to pick up our transit passes and even gave us some tips to avoid the pickpockets that flock to tourist attractions. I found myself picking up some basic Italian words and starting conversations with the shopkeepers that lined every narrow street. Instead of the language barrier being much of a problem, it turned out to be a fun challenge to communicate without understanding what the other person was saying. I came to love my time spent out and about as much as my time in the venue.I feel that I am a more rounded person because of my trip, and I think it is important to learn about others' way of life. I am so grateful to the Northwest Roller Skating Foundation and all those who helped make my trip possible to represent our country at the world championships.
I feel that I am a more rounded person because of my trip, and I think it is important to learn about others' way of life. I am so grateful to the Northwest Roller Skating Foundation and all those who helped make my trip possible to represent our country at the world championships.