Welcome to Katie's Travel Blog. This is really Jenny-doesn't-get-to-travel blog where I (mom) keep track of Katie's adventures so I can have some vicarious enjoyment! Here's a look at what one globally-aware kid from little Santa Cruz, California gets to do these days if her mom's willing to keep working!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Destination: Chicago 2012 Global Youth Forum

She's off again. This time a much shorter trip and she's staying kind of local. Katie's hitting Chicago the day after our President was re-elected. She's hoping she will see him at the airport!

Katie is participating in the People to People 2012 Global Youth Forum aimed at teaching the kids about the leadership skills needed to create change in the world. Katie was a political junkie in the last few weeks, devouring information about the candidates, having a friend over for every debate, and watching the Daily Show and The Colbert Report to help her understand how the machine really worked.

Now I'm hoping she'll learn how to collaborate with people that don't necessarily share her point of view. GYF says there will be 125 students attending the conference, representing 11 different countries including Russia, South Africa, Palestine and all over the United States.

She tends to approach the world like a scientist with an overdose of logic and absolution. But as we did the homework this weekend - go learn about Romania and their social issues and come up with solutions - we were quickly met with the reality of problem solving. The answers aren't black and white.They are context-driven. I thought her head would explode.

Here's an example of a Romanian challenge:

In Romania, when Ceausescu took over, unwanted children have been given to orphanages. This was the result of extreme poverty and abortions being deemed illegal. But when Ceausescu was removed in late 1989, the culture had accepted this behavior and it continues today. Unwanted children are still - to this day - given to orphanages or live on the street. This blew Katie's mind. Her simple solution: birth control. Immediately for everyone. Except looking a little closer, you learn the church is extremely powerful in Romania and health care is also not that accessible. It turns out they also have a great divide between those who are educated and those who are not. So solving the problem needs to work within those parameters. (Interested in learning more about Romania? Read this great blog by a guy who taught there for a year.)

Katie let out a heavy sigh and decided there was no way to solve the problem. But I assured her there was, it was just harder than a simple answer. That's why she was going to the GYF to learn how to approach problem solving in context. My fingers are crossed that she will get great ideas and inspiration that she can bring back and share with her friends and classmates.

I got a pleasant surprise at the airport.

We were completely prepared for me to say goodbye at the security line and I had rehearsed Katie in how to get through security and get to her gate since she is making this trip alone. But when we checked in her bag ($25 please - ug), the agent gave me a pass to get through security too! Since Katie's 13, I guess they do that sort so the kid isn't un-escorted. So I got to have an early breakfast with Katie and watch her do everything we talked about with me as backup.

She could have totally handled it. But I am glad I was there because she was in a bit of a coma from being up so late to watch Obama's speech last night and then up so early to catch the flight (we were up at 5am). She texted me from the plane; apparently she was the last person to sit down because she walked past row 10 to row 30 and had to back all the way up against the stream of one-way people!
Been a long time since I could see the plane with my loved one ON it.

I said I bet she'll never make that mistake again. She assured me, "No way."

Cool Find: did you know you can track flights real-time using FlightAware.com? I am loving it this morning as I watch her plane buzz over Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa. 

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