Not a Typical Night
Madeline, Age 13, Doylestown, PA

Every night, my typical family dinner consists of my family sitting at a circular table and eating one of my motherís home cooked meals. This night was not one of those nights. Being only eight years old, anything different than what I was used to made me feel as if I didnít belong. But attending a traditional Hawaiian luau made everyone feel a little out of place. We walked upon the golden sand, waves crashing, crabs crawling. We were then led to a stone pathway that took us to the site of our dinner. As we walked, I imagined a long row of tables draped with beautiful floral tablecloths, and a view of the beach that would take my breath away. And thatís exactly what I saw. We were seated at long tables that stretched on for miles and were draped with floral tablecloths that stood out among everything else in the dim candlelight. Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted by the banging of drums. The sound, matching the beat of my heart and made me look around in confusion. Three men with green grass skirts and swirling tattoos snaked onto the stage, and everything stopped. As if to answer my questions, the men started to dance. Arms jerking, feet hopping, they emulated someone walking on broken glass. I was so captivated by their performance that I didnít realize that our dinner had arrived. At my first glance, I saw a pinkish blob surrounded by myriad pieces of foreign food. When I glanced at it again, I realized that it was a piece of the pig that had been cooked in the ground earlier. Knowing that my food was prepared in the ground made me apprehensive to eat it.
 
ďCome on, Madeline, just eat it,Ē my mother scolded me. I knew that if I didnít eat it now, I would regret it later. Heart racing, stomach flipping, I took a bite. To my surprise, it tasted marvellous. The meat, honey glazed and cooked to perfection, was gone from my plate in under one minute. After dinner was served, we unwillingly had to start heading back to our hotel. I didnít understand why we had to leave so soon. I was finally starting to enjoy the luau.

ďWait just a second. We canít leave here without a family photo,Ē my dad, a lover of the beach, exclaimed. The sun was hovering above the horizon, casting a dim glow like a light bulb before it burns out. As we posed for the camera, sparkling and glittering in the setting sun, I gazed at all of the other families enjoying their luau just as I had. Watching kids my age looking at their food and pushing it away confused me because even though it looked different, it tasted amazing. Click! The picture was snapped, and we were heading home. Then I realized that I had done the exact same thing with my food. I just had to try it. Finally, we walked back along the white sandy beaches lined with tall palm trees.

I had just been exposed to a different culture and a different way of life for people. I thought about how lucky I was to have this experience. This trip showed me how beautiful the world is, and how exciting it can be to experience exotic places and ways of life. Every night, my typical family dinner consists of my family sitting at a circular table and eating one of my motherís home cooked meals. This night was not one of those nights.

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