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From backpacking to Air Force packing

Traveler, Kaitlyn Brewer, stands in front of a sign in Wroclaw Poland, 2014.

Traveler, Kaitlyn Brewer, stands in front of a sign in Wroclaw Poland, 2014. This was the seventh country of 14 she visited with her best friend. (Courtesy photo)

Traveler, Kaitlyn Brewer, stands with a shark in Copenhagen Denmark, 2014.

Traveler, Kaitlyn Brewer, stands with a shark in Copenhagen Denmark, 2014. This was a goal she and her best friend saved up for beginning in high school. (Courtesy photo)

A clown entertains a crowd, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2014.

A clown entertains a crowd, Copenhagen, Denmark 2014. This photograph was taken during a backpacking trip across Eastern Europe. (Courtesy photo)

Traveler, Kaitlyn Brewer, boats with a friend on the water, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2014.

Traveler, Kaitlyn Brewer, boats with a friend on the water, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2014. This was the first stop on a trip of 14 countries to be visited after high school. (Courtesy photo)

Boats are docked as tourists view the famous scene in Czech Republic, 2014.

Boats are docked as tourists view the famous scene in Czech Republic, 2014. This was one of the many photographs taken that influenced a, now Airman, to travel and look for cultured people in the day-to-day. (Courtesy photo)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

It started when I was seven years old. My mom and uncle brought my sister and me to Syria to meet our family, and see our uncle get married. I saw people riding donkeys, honking every time they turned the corners; I met people who gave me food just because I was a kid. People there seemed to have an appreciation and depth in their lives.

Unknowingly, we were rushing through the airport to leave while my mom had a passport that expired that day. It ended up being a blessing in disguise, as we ended up staying for the better part of a year.

From then on my view of the world and various cultures had completely changed. I had a greater respect for ‘foreigners’ to our country. In high school all my friends had parents from different countries and all of them had education and discipline instilled as a core value. Their parents were also very strict and never let them go to parties, work, or spend time with friends on the weekend, unless they did some studying first. Today they all have Masters Degrees. I look up to my friends as they achieved their goals of education and are able to relax and sail smoothly, enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Post high school, my best friend and I saved for a Europe trip and I learned what it felt like to be independent. Afterwards, I worked my way through college with two jobs. During that time I visited my best friend at her school in Japan and we stopped in China and South Korea before heading home. After three years of burning myself out and sleeping an average of four hours a night, I moved to North Dakota to make more money in the oilfields. People traveled from all over the states to work there. I met a couple people who seemed to lack diversity and met people from every state as well with all different stories. Very few were actually native to the state. It was with these people I worked 17 hour shifts; during my off weeks I traveled to all 50 states, as well as Canada.

By the time I was 22 I had enlisted in the Air Force.

From what I could tell, military members flew planes, went to school, volunteered and traveled a lot. These were all things I did already.

Now that I have been an Airmen for two years, I have been meeting people from different countries and states daily. My mission and job on the day-to-day is to meet people and write about them, to highlight those who work hard and make them stand out because they deserve it. I wrote about a couple who stayed best friends for 25 years because they were both too shy to tell the other they liked each other; and kept in contact through all the deployments. My optometrist has been on over ten humanitarian missions and my finance representative became an American citizen to join the military.

These are the stories that inspire, motivate, instill and bind us through humanity.

Through the stresses of a fast paced, regimented military career, I have met so many people I find interesting and cultured; I am proud to write about them. So many people have a surprising background; we work side by side. I challenge the reader of this story to talk to people who are different from yourself. People come from diverse places whose stories may give you a greater appreciation for the little niceties in life.