So, here’s an update on the first part of my journey. I flew on this plane from Edinburgh:
My flight was delayed so I had to wait in the airport for an extra 3 hours. I just wanted to get going but I tried to stay patient because I know that getting stressed just makes everything worse. I walked around a lot to use up some energy and also because I knew that I was going to be sitting on the plane for about 8 hours.
Eventually we got to board. I was quite surprised because the plane was just normal sized – I had expected it to be bigger! It was a bit squashed but we fitted in. The flight was pretty good really. We got little airplane meals which I liked and we got ice cream too:).
There were wee TVs on the back of each seat so I watched two films. One with Will Smith, called Collateral Beauty which was about how people can notice the beauty of life more after someone dies. It made me cry because some people that I love have died over the last few years and afterwards I did kind of notice beauty in everything, which was very powerful. It reminded me to try to live life and pay attention to the things that are important (like looking after myself, resting, being kind to myself and others, spending time with people I love, having fun – that kind of stuff).
The other film was called Jackie and was about Jackie Kennedy when her husband (and American president) was shot. It showed how strong and dignified she was even though she was heartbroken – even though the world was watching her and she was under lots of pressure, she tried to do the right thing even though it was really hard. That’s one of my goals – to try to do the right thing even when it’s hard. Of course the right thing might be different for everyone, so sometimes it’s complicated. In work I try to do the right thing for HOT and in my life I try to do the right thing for me or my family (depends what the situation is).
I only slept for a short time on the plane as it wasn’t very comfortable and I was worried I might drool or fall asleep on the man beside me:). When I woke up I did some meditation – they had the Headspace app on the TV which was great and made me feel really chilled out. You can get it for free if you have a smart phone.
We arrived in Chicago and it was raining really heavily – that was strange as it had been scorchio when we left Edinburgh! This is what I’ve learned about getting around when you come to a new place:
- Try to be patient when things are different to how you think they will be – sometimes they will be better),
- Do a wee bit of research before you go somewhere, to find out about interesting things to do – often there are lots of cool things to do for free,
- Download an offline google map or pick up a free map at the airport or train/bus station,
- Ask people at the information desk, or ask a police officer,
- Smile when you talk to people and be polite to everyone – don’t think that everyone else is confident and knows what they are doing, quite often everyone else is unsure too,
- Check that you are getting on the right but or train before you get on.
These things made my journey much easier and I found my way without too much trouble. It was very interesting arriving in America. The first thing I heard was an announcement telling use to wash our hands, especially if we coughed or sneezed! Then we had to say why we were coming to the USA and we had to give our fingerprints and have our photos taken!!!
They checked my passport for ages and said how different I looked. What do you think?
On the train to Chicago, I spent time ‘people watching’. It was mostly tourists – people from all over the world. A quite scary looking man got on and I noticed people moving away from him. Then a young man got on. He looked really ill and tired and was carrying a blanket in a plastic bag. I felt really worried for him. He suddenly said really loudly “Hi everyone, my name is Jessie and I’m 18 years old. Apparently I’m homeless now. Can you spare a dollar so I can get the bus?” The scary looking man gave him some money and told him to try and eat. It reminded me that you shouldn’t always judge people by how they look. I wondered how young Jessie would manage and what kind of help young homeless people get in America? In Edinburgh there is good help (like the Rock Trust) but even then it’s really tough!
When we arrived I found my hotel. It was late because the flight had been delayed. There was no water in the room and I was really thirsty so I decided to go out to try to buy some. As soon as I got outside a guy came up to me and said “I’ve just got out of jail and I’m looking for someone to go out for a drink with me”. He was friendly and had a kind face – and looked about the same age as my oldest son. I remembered that you you can’t always judge people by how they look so I decided to keep myself safe and go back to the hotel. He was a bit pushy so I used my good assertive skills (not passive, not aggressive but being firm and clear but respectful) and he went on his way. I went into the shop across the road from the hotel to get some water and the woman short changed me – again I used my assertiveness skills and said “oh you haven’t given me the right change”. She tried to argue with me but I just repeated myself politely until she eventually gave me my change. Later I thought about the reasons that people sometimes don’t want to be assertive:
- They don’t want to hurt people’s feelings,
- They don’t want people to think they are rude or pushy or uncool,
- They feel too shy,
- They don’t want other people to feel bad.
But if you aren’t assertive sometimes then you are left with bad feelings or feel like a victim. I’ve been practicing for a long time now and it definitely gets easier with practice and it’s definitely better than some of the feelings you can be left with if you aren’t assertive.
My head started to go a bit woozy at about 10pm and I realised that at home it would be about 4 in the morning, so I went to bed and slept like a log! In the morning I went for a walk to explore. Here’s a photo of the view:
Turns out it was Memorial day – a day to remember all the men and women who gave their lives or were injured in the wars. There were lots of young soldiers doing drills with guns and marching but there was also a lot of homeless veterans begging which seemed sad. I’ve come to the USA to learn about how trauma affects children and young people as they develop. Soldiers are often affected by terrible trauma and can find it difficult when they come home. I wonder how the USA supports it’s veterans?
Anyway, I want to let you know that we’re going to have a competition – any young person between 12 and 25 can enter. In my blogs I’ll mention three agencies where I’m going to do some work. On HOT’s Facebook page I’m going to post three pictures of my Yoshi mascot beside three famous landmarks. If you can list the three agencies and the three landmarks then email your list, your name and your age to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of June. All the emails which have the right answers will be entered into a prize draw on 20th July and the winner will get a cool prize from America! Look out for my next blog post which might have the first clue:)
With thanks to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travel scholarship!