I Believe in Foreign Dirt

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I Believe in Foreign Dirt

I believe in the power of foreign dirt beneath my feet. The foreign dirt spread throughout the world of past and present civilizations holding secrets of languages, food, customs, history and religion. Mysteries of cultures waiting and wanting to be unraveled and discovered by our curious minds.

Dirt crunches beneath my feet as I walk up to my uncles’ house with my brother. Gazing up, a shanty barn stares back at me; paint peeling off the walls, windows that haven’t let the house breathe in years and a roof that is in dire need of replacing. Reluctantly I ring the doorbell of my long lost relatives. The door creaks open, and my cousin, a girl of about ten, is beaming up at me. We walk inside and are engulfed with hugs and kisses from mere strangers. I was spending my summer in the backcountry of Poland. My mom had the idea of sending my brother and me to our long lost relatives to explore what hard work really was and where our family had lived for generations.

Just as the sun started peaking through the trees in the morning dew, we were crammed into their family car heading to a nearby church to donate the clothes we brought with from home. After years of visiting Poland and spending all my time in the hustle and bustle of the city, I was surprised at the tranquil scenery; fields of rolling greens engulfed in thick evergreens surrounded us. As we walked into the church, I looked around as I saw a dozen small faces staring back at me in curiosity. The children noticed that we were dressed differently and spoke a language they were unfamiliar with. As the children walked up closer to us, unsure of what to say or do, I handed a young boy a pair of my brothers’ old jeans. I noticed he had on a pair that were all scuffed up with holes in the knees and were up at his ankles. His eyes lit up, not in greed but in gratitude and appreciation. My heart dropped as I thought about all brand new clothes I had hanging in my closet. At that point, I was speechless.

Spending summers in the backcountry of Poland opened my eyes to an entire new culture I was unaware of. I learned about poverty, hard work, and dedication after seeing how my family and many others live. It gave me the chance to truly explore my own foreign dirt, my heritage, and learn from my family members, teaching me things that are so distant from my everyday life.

I believe in foreign dirt beneath my feet. Exploring dirt teaches you to grow as a person by learning the secrets of the world and allows you to understand diversity and cultures, especially living in a place like America, the “melting pot” of the world. I got to explore something that I thought I was very familiar with, Poland, but saw just how very different our worlds are. Whether it’s traveling to a far away country or just visiting the next town over, believe in the power of foreign dirt.

By: Claudia Mroczkowski