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Four Years at the Mount

Junior year

Where’s Australia

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2016

(4/2015) When I was little I didn’t understand much about the world. The layout, size, and logistics didn’t mean much to me and weren’t high on my priority list of things to know at the time. I wasn’t even exactly sure what a planet was. I knew I lived on one and that it was called Earth but that basically summed up my knowledge of anything greater than Maryland and greater than the United States up until first grade.

I remember distinctly sitting in my first grade classroom at my little desk in a chair that had tennis

balls on its legs to keep it from scratching the new floor. Surely I was wearing a dress, the only thing fitting for someone who never gave up on the belief that she could be a princess, and I’m sure my long, dirty-blonde hair was braided down my back in the type of perfection only my mother could create. Anna sat to my right with her hands placed perfectly on her desk and Chris sat to my left searching through the mess of papers in his desk to find the worksheet we were working on.

My teacher walked to the front of the room and pulled down the screen then walked to the middle of the room and turned on the overhead projector. She placed the copy of the worksheet we were working on onto the machine and got out her colored markers. The worksheet we were going over had all the planets on it with facts about each of them. We went over them all together in sequence, learning about their position to the sun and their characteristics. We each learned the phrase "My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas" as a way to remember the order of the planets based off of the first letter in their name. We all marveled about Jupiter’s size, went crazy drawing Saturn’s rings, and empathized for Pluto being the smallest (at this time…) planet. Being the knowledge-hungry six-year-old I was, I soaked it all up, wanting to know and wanting to understand. I could barely comprehend a world so much larger than me but I tried to imagine it as best as I could. Yet, I couldn’t exactly grasp all that my teacher was telling my class. It seemed like there were some things that just weren’t matching up…

Now, I must admit that I had some strange interests as a child and at this time my main fascination was over platypuses. I thought they were the coolest things that have ever existed because they are mammals but they lay eggs and because they are so tiny. I knew that there were no platypuses in any bodies of water near me and I had been told that they only lived in Australia. The concept of Australia didn’t really mean anything to me but I accepted it with the sadness that meant I wouldn’t be able to see any platypuses swimming in the bay beside my house, so this nonsense of planets was confusing me.

With scrunched eyebrows and a perplex mind I raised my hand to ask my teacher a question. She called my name and in a hesitant voice I asked, "Well, what planet is Australia on?" My teacher looked at me surprised by my question and answered, "Well Earth, of course." The perplexity must have still been written on my face because she went to the board and pulled down a map of the continents and said, "All of these continents and countries are on the Earth".

At six years old, my mind was blown. All of them? On one planet? How was that even possible?! You see, up until that point I thought that whenever someone went to another country, they were going to another planet and as the nave child that I was, I thought only the United States existed on the earth. Boy was I wrong!

I remember this moment so distinctly because it was a specific time when my world grew in an instant. Before I had been convinced that it was so condensed and so nearby, I had no idea that our world encompassed all of the beautiful countries, nations, and people outside of the United States. In that moment, I was more amazed by our world than I had ever been in the previous six years of my little life.

As I continue to grow up, the earth we call our home planet constantly amazes me. There is so much beauty to be found and it can be seen just outside your window or literally around the world. We are so lucky to live on such an astonishing planet that makes life possible for human kind, animal kind (especially platypuses), and the vast array of plants.

As we celebrate Earth Day, and everyday, let us be grateful for the planet we live on and all that it offers us. My hope for you is that you all have a sense of such amazement with our planet that it is as if you first discovered just how big our world truly is.

Read other articles by Lydia Olsen