By Anna

The following essay is one I wrote for New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s contest: “Win a trip with Nick!”

I do not know if I won, but will let you know if I do. Winning is a long shot, but writing this was an exercise in thought extraction nonetheless.

The 16th century Hungarian myth, the Battle of Bull’s Blood, is about the near destruction of the Hungarians at the sword of the Turks. However, the Hungarian men slathered a dark red wine in their beards and on their clothes to scare the Turks into thinking they were savage because they drank bull’s blood.

The man who told me this story on the bank of the Danube in Budapest, said it was the Hungarian women who conceived of the feral idea. Since I heard that story last year, I knew it would be the women of this world that would reconcile this age of crisis through dignity, intelligence and grace.

I want to be a part of Nicholas Kristof’s trip to Africa because I am a journalism student at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn., a cross-cultural studies minor, and a fellow adventurer who believes women do hold up half the sky. I have traveled abroad a half dozen times recording through photographs and a pen what I saw and what I did not see. It is important to me that people’s stories are heard, and I know it is in my power to tell these stories.

After returning from Cambodia three years ago, I started a blog with friends concerning everything relevant in the world. My weekly column focuses on humanity and inhumanity. I wrote about what disturbed me in the streets of Phnom Penh but quickly moved to what excited me about places like New Life Center in the heart of the city where people meet to eat and commune together.

I want to travel with Nicholas so people will see continents as countries, countries as cities, cities as neighborhoods, and neighborhoods as people–people with ideas and emotions shaped by their history yet important no matter their history.

I also want to go on this trip because I have never been to Africa but have always had the goal to see as much of the world as much as possible. Also, there is no better way to travel than with a significant purpose. I want to meet young girls and old women, to know what they know so I can relay to others what connects us, and help reconcile where we are disconnected. I want to be the person to tell about the organization that has girls stay in school during their menstrual cycles and has given women birth control and education so that they might not have to outgrow their means. I am excited to write the truth even if it is difficult and sorrowful.

With or without this trip I will continue to collect stories of empowered women and continue to meet people who inspire and challenge me. Even if it means a little red wine needs to be spilled every once and awhile.