The Truth Board

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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I’ll admit it. I was that one girl that had everything handed to her on a silver platter. I was that one girl that cried because she didn’t get the scooter she wanted, and ran away from her aunt in the mall so that it took four hours for her aunt to find her. I was that one girl that cried when people looked at her for more than five seconds. That girl, however, is no longer here. 

I guess it all changed when I travelled to India. Leaving phones, hair brushes and electricity behind, I embarked on a journey that would change my life. At the time, I felt like my life was ending when my father told me I wouldn’t be staying in an air-conditioned hotel room, but would be staying in a treehouse in the Indian jungle, and travel through India either by foot or by public train. All so I could experience the world. For a little princess, this was a nightmare.

The first two days consisted staying in the infamous treehouse, which was actually a cabin in the middle of the jungle. I shared a bed with frogs and one brisk walk through tall grass left me sharing my leg with a leech. The bed sheets were soaked every morning from the humidity, and stepping out of the shower resulted in me sweating so much that I needed another one straight away. Shower, you ask? More like a bucket that you have to toss over your head. 

But my mentality changed when we got our first meal served. Lentils and chicken on banana leaves that we ate with our hands. Sounds disgusting, but it was hands down the best meal I have ever had. And the jungle left me space to roam and further my imaginary riding school that I had created with my friend a year prior.

As we left the jungle, I actually found myself to be sad about it. I had no idea what to expect for our next destinations. Taking the public trains was a nightmare that I never want to dream about ever again- I was heaved through an open window, losing my entire family and being crammed into a little cabin that left me wondering why people actually still take this form of transportation. But it got us to my favorite part of the trip: our houseboat excursion. 

The houseboat consisted of a kitchen, three bedrooms and a deck. The deck is where I spent most of the days tanning, watching the water on the river float past us or looking out towards the village ahead of us. We traversed a river for an entire day, cruising past little shacks and shanty’s that housed families of up to 12 people. Little kids were drawing pictures in the dirt with sticks, or playing tag with their cousins. Other than that, it was completely silent.

Looking back, this moment is the moment that changed my life. What happened next is something that I will not forget, and won’t ever want to. My friend and I had brought pens and colored pencils with us on the trip, to pass the time that we would have usually spent playing our gameboys. While passing a house that had about six or seven children playing infront of it and an elder woman washing shirts in the river, we decided to treat those kids to the pens we considered everyday things. We could easily buy them when we got back to Germany, but these kids could not. But I guess we never really knew how much these kids wanted these pens until we started throwing them to them.

It sounds banal and condescending. Throwing pens to other kids our age sounds like we thought we were something better. Truthfully, we only wanted to do something good for once. When the first pen landed on the ground, the kids all ran to them to be the first. But it didn’t stop there - they proceeded to beat each other just to get ahold of one of these pens. Kids that had been jovially playing with one another two minutes prior were now beating each other to death. Thinking more pens would stop the kids from hurting each other, we threw more to them. But it got so much worse. Watching them kicking and slapping each other just to gain possession of something that I didn’t care at all about was shocking.

Think about it. You are probably holding a pen right now. How many other pens do you own? How many have you lost or lent to someone else, and not cared when you didn’t get them back? These kids would never think about pens like we do, because they don’t have the resources to do so. And that’s when everything changed for me.

I became a lot more aware of the things happening around me. Walking through the streets of India, I became aware of people dying on the streets, and when people stared at me I realized that it wasn’t because they thought I was weird, it was just because they didn’t know any better. And suddenly, I didn’t want a lot of the things I had at home. I gave all my polly pocket houses to my younger friends that didn’t have them. My old clothes went to donation boxes around my hometown. And years later, I would travel to Poland to build houses for the poor.

It’s hard to describe the exact change I went through in as little as two pages. However, I believe that this one moment snowballed into everything I have achieved thus far; moving to a different city 5,000 miles away from home, starting over, losing friends, making new ones, finding love, having my heart broken, and following my dreams that once seemed to impossible. 

- Beatrice


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