Traveling Across the World to Meet Elephants: A Dream Come True
By Ryan Burton
In my kindergarten class we were learning our animals. My classmates gathered, criss-cross applesauce, went around in a circle and said what pets they wanted to own when they were older. The kids shared their ideas on a somewhat orderly fashion. “Dog, cat, hamster, cat, dog, bunny”, said the students as the attention focused on them. For the most part their responses consisted of animals that the kids already had at home, animals that they knew and loved. However, when it was my turn to speak I proudly opened my mouth and said there word “elephant”. My classmates laughed with innocence. My teacher looked at me with a smile and said “Aw Ryan that would be quite wonderful, maybe one day”.
I have loved elephants since I can remember. I can’t fully explain why. There is something truly spiritual about them. They possess the utmost strength and potential of damage, yet they refuse to hurt a fly. I have always looked up to this. To me, it reflected good character and good morale, something that I have always tried to conduct myself with.
When deciding where to travel with The Experiment I was open to go anywhere. Nothing was off the table. I sat at my table flipping through the catalog and read the descriptions for each destination that were offered. Every trip sounded absolutely amazing, but nothing had truly called my name. Finally, I flipped over a page and saw “Thailand” headlining a double page spread of vibrant pictures. Immediately, I was interested, so I went further on to read the trip’s description. That was when I saw it. The words “meet elephants” glossed on the stiff paper. At that moment I knew that this was my choice. This was my journey.
I counted down the days for the trip. I waited patiently for 7 months, dreaming of what was yet to come. To my surprise, it came faster then I expected, and Just like that, I was off to Thailand for 30 days.
On Monday, July 22nd, I hopped off the van and set foot on the grounds of the “Save The Elephant Foundation”. I gazed onto the open land and saw them. Walking with such grace, such pride. They looked happy. Our group walked closer and we approached the animals. As we entered their presence, they did not flinch. They welcomed us. I saw one elephant and I immediately connected with it. Something about her felt so familiar to me. I walked slowly and rested my hand on the elephants shoulder. That moment was everything for me. Nothing else in the world mattered. Just me and the animal. It felt natural. It felt right.
That day changed my life. Not everyone is able to say that their dreams come true. I, for one, can.