‘These are the moments I live for’

I’ve been sitting in the same seat for nine straight hours. No legroom, no elbow room, and no room to think. At long last, the pilot’s voice comes over the intercom, and I can hardly contain my excitement. As I disembark, make my way through the airport, and face the long-anticipated sight of Rome, one of Europe’s most famed cities, the realization hits. Whether it’s Amsterdam, Paris, London, or Dublin, these are the moments I live for.

My name is Emma Martin, I’m 17 years old, and I’ve lived in Marietta for 14 years. I am currently a junior at Marietta High School. For some, the transition from junior high to senior high may mean buckling down and hitting the books. For others, it might mean finding their place on a team or in a certain group. For me, this monumental transition to “adulthood” brought something I didn’t expect – a new and improved global mindset.

I first traveled internationally in the summer of my sophomore year, and it’s hard to imagine a more eye-opening experience. It changed the way I think, even the way I look at daily activities. Somehow, a short jaunt through Europe changed my life. It molded my interests, my education, even my future. Through my early exposure to the world, I found my passion in cross-cultural education and partnership, especially where it involves this generation’s students. I believe that our generation has the skills necessary to improve upon the pre-existing basis for international business and how cooperation works within it.

Since that incredibly important milestone in my life, I’ve continued traveling and learning, soaking up all that I can about other cultures and sharing that with my peers. When I was offered the opportunity to travel to China and attend EF’s Global Student Leaders Summit with Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership programs, there was no way I could turn it down. It’s been a lot of work fundraising for the trip, but undoubtedly worth it. I’ll be traveling to Shanghai, Beijing, and Xi’an with 20 students from around the US. Hoping to get the most out of my experience, I will be participating in EF’s journalism internship so that I can record and share what I learn with all of you.

As one of several American students embarking on this journey, I look forward to meeting and working with the Chinese students that will also be attending the summit. China is one of the world’s largest and most influential countries. It has a growing influence on the global market and American economics, particularly because much of our production has been outsourced to China.

Social entrepreneurship in China is behind in development, particularly due to a general inability to finance; yet it boasts a promising future. Collaborating with Chinese students will enable both sides to see things from a different angle, and allow us to coproduce solutions to some of the problems that young entrepreneurs face around the world. International business is growing exponentially, and its rising relevance in the workings of our world proves that it is a formidable, yet incredibly important, aspect in today’s global economic system.

This opportunity has opened my eyes to some of the more pressing matters that face young entrepreneurs today, and it has given me a great deal to think about. Given time, I believe that we can build on the pre-existing basis for a powerful international connection with some of the world’s strongest economies. Our generation has a responsibility to society, and I cannot stress the importance of establishing a global mindset at an early age. I look forward to bringing home incredible stories and memories to share with the rest of my community. I am blessed to have this phenomenal opportunity and cannot wait to experience not only the summit, but Chinese culture as well.