Hometown: Richmond, Virginia, USA
Explored: Charlestown, Saint Kitts and Nevis
About: University of Virginia Student
"Genuine. Sweet. Inviting. Curious. Beautiful.
These words describe two young girls from Nevis who taught me the true meaning of friendship.
I met Aliyah and Aliyah (yes, they have the same name) in a 7th grade classroom at a primary school in Nevis, West Indies. I visited the school to drop off first aid supplies and teach the students about first aid. I must say, it seemed like the kids were teaching me more about first aid than I was teaching them. Aliyah and Aliyah both were sitting in the front row of the classroom with permanent smiles on their faces. I first talked to them in their classroom while crouching under a desk during a tornado drill. Aliyah and Aliyah complimented my bracelet. I said thank you.
I talked to the girls again as we walked outside to a big field behind the school for a fire drill. Along the way, I noticed how open they were to expression. Holding hands while standing in the fire drill line, they would often enthusiastically whisper comments to each other and start giggling immediately thereafter. I think they had a crush on one of my classmates who came on the trip with me. The girls eventually mustered up enough courage to ask him a few questions and soon directed their attention to me. We talked about our families, our interests, our lives. Their curiosity was so real, so genuine. It was fascinating.
They invited me into their world, their reality. I instantly became their friend and they were mine. We held hands, hugged, and laughed. I had only known them for a few hours, but it seemed like we had a stronger connection with each other than I do with some of my friends back home. How does this happen? I now realize friendship cannot be forced. It relies on people being true to themselves, open, and real. With the girls, I was authentically Lindsey because they were authentically themselves. I immersed myself in their world - a place that Lin Manuel describes as “a forgotten spot in the Caribbean,” the birthplace of US President, Alexander Hamilton - and left with a true understanding of what it means to be a friend."