By Eleanor Hedges Duroy, age 14
Summer came and so did the prospect of returning to Europe to visit my family. Before I left home in Ohio, my peers from across the political spectrum, warned me to “make it back in one piece.” Perhaps they were thinking about fear that the Trump administration has recently provoked in Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, by highlighting crimes and terrorism outside of the United States while downplaying shootings and violence inside the country. Trump’s travel bans have also made Americans afraid of travel, different cultures and other countries.
I did not carry the fear. My major fear this year was embarrassment. I was worried that Europeans would scoff at Americans and believe we are ignorant for electing a dishonest president. I worried that President Trump’s provocative statements about foreign relations would put Americans abroad in jeopardy and cause Europeans to become angry with Americans.
While I was abroad, I read European newspapers daily. I understood why they felt that Trump and Americans were letting down the world by promoting strife rather than peace.
However, individual adults I met were gracious. They understood I was just one person, not the sum total of my country. Yet, they were angry that the United States threatened world stability by breaking international agreements.
Now that I’m back in school, I hope to bring the other side’s views to debate and to share my experiences abroad. I will continue to travel and to not be afraid of what people think when I am abroad. Now I have the strength and experience to change that fear in the United States.