In elementary school my parents took me on a trip to California. This trip was the first long trip I can remember taking, along with the first plane ride I could remember (my baby trip to Mexico does not count). Walking around the city of Los Angeles was another first for me; first time truly seeing homeless people. Homeless were in an abundance, they no longer were the questionable people who claim they are homeless standing on corners, but no socks, rummaging through trash homeless. My young brain, for another first, started thinking about all those who have to live in a box and how they were once young and possibly passing by other homeless. I also started to think about the rich people who have started out their young life on the streets. After the homeless people I started looking at all those who were just walking by. I ask myself what was going through their minds when they saw the homeless. I wondered where all these people were heading and why and how and how did they get there. Back then I had no idea that this could all be summed up into one word. The word ‘sonder’.

Sonder is the realization that every random person passing by on the street is living their own unique, complex lives.  Few words stir up feelings inside such as the word ‘sonder’. With every repeat of the word the body seems to calm down as it rolls off the tongue. Not only does the word sonder sound good, but it holds such a large meaning within two syllables.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Californian Mind by Haley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Youth Voices is organized by teachers at local sites of the National Writing Project and in partnership with Educator Innovator.

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