Breaking Ground: Bridging The Cultural Divide

Emily Budd is feeding her pet rabbit when her little brother pops his head into the bedroom.

“Ever since I got the rabbit, it’s like my room is free territory for anyone. I’m like, ‘No, that’s not how it is,’” she says.

Emily, 15, with her rabbit Chloe. She calls it her “therapy bunny.” (Photo by Andrew Katz-Moses)

Emily is a lovely, thoughtful 15-year-old who lives in New Kent, Virginia. Her dad is a lieutenant colonel in the Army, and so her large, loving family has spent several years abroad in South Korea, Germany, the Netherlands, and, most recently, Armenia.

“It was like a second home for me. I’m sorry if I start crying, because I haven’t talked about it in a really long time,” she says.

Emily says she learned to look beyond the rundown Soviet-style buildings and appreciate the warm and caring people living inside them.

“I learned Armenian, I learned the customs, I learned to love the people, I learned everything about Armenia that there possibly is to know,” she says.

She says moving back to a rural community in the U.S. was not easy.

“People who have lived here their whole lives are very close knit, and when someone like me comes in who’s been to 23 countries and speaks three other languages, I’m the odd ball out,” Emily explains.

Emily is learning not to say a lot about her travels, but she’s confused by the idea that not everyone would like the experience of living abroad.

“For example, I’ll tell them in Korea, I tried seaweed, seaweed’s one of my favorite foods,” she says. “And they’re like, ‘Eww, people eat seaweed? That’s so weird.’”


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