Advanced Essay #1-Geography and Me

I can recall plucking it from a bin at Ross’s. A skinny, tall red-and-black book with white letters on the front. Surrounding the title was a plethora of flags, representing the banners of various nations, from Japan to Sweden to Botswana to Brazil. It was entitled “Flags of the World”, and it would soon be my constant companion.

Even though I was born with Asperger’s Syndrome and so was at a deficit when it came to interacting with people, I became fascinated with the wider workings of the human world. “Flags of the World” was stuffed full of interests tidbits and facts that thrilled my five-year-old brain. That Cuba was the largest island in the Caribbean. That there were two Koreas. That Russia was the largest nation in the world and that Vatican City was the smallest. At the same time, I was studying a duo of puzzle maps of the United States and learning the names of all the capitals of each state. It was easy to accomplish; for when you picked up a puzzle piece of a state, it would reveal the name of a capital beneath. It was with these puzzles that I learned how the nation operated on a grand scale: the nicknames and highways and byways and the two peninsulas of Michigan and Alaska and Hawaii, cast off from the others. It instilled within me an appreciation of the beauty of knowledge, and humanity’s place within it. By the time I entered school, I had memorized all fifty state capitals, from Augusta, Maine, to Olympia, Washington, and everywhere in between. This interest in the doings of the world’s peoples and nations lead to a wider interest in history, helping me put everything that has ever happened into a grand sweeping context, while still focusing in on the little details which I love. It lead me to the hobby of collecting of old postcards so I can horde places around the world, and see how they have changed and morphed across the decades and centuries. It has given me the “travel bug” and lead to two trips to Rome, Italy, where I viewed the entirety of the world’s collective past in one metropolis. It seems that my interest in geography and history and whatnot instills a sense of order 6and understanding into my chaotic relationships with other people. It’s easier to understand someone else if you know the geographical and historical circumstances which shaped them. It makes the human race seem less intimidating and alien. One could state that my love for maps and geography of all kinds has been affecting my life since I started school. I remember clearly my kindergarten classroom, with my teacher, Mrs. Brennan, seated at the front with a large photograph of two children playing in the snow. Mrs. Brennan quizzed us as to what the image depicted, to which I raised my hand and replied, “Two Inuits from Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada”. I had recently viewed an episode of the PBS program “Postcards From Buster”, in which the titular animated rabbit from “Arthur” went to different cities in North America. In this episode, he had journeyed to Iqaluit, the capital of the territory of Nunavut in Canada’s Arctic regions. Mrs. Brennan was taken aback-in a rather good way-by my response. It was not so much that it was wrong as that it was unexpected-a kind of mental trick which I am apparently good at. Today, I still love geography very much. I know more about more specific areas than I once did, and my knowledge of national capitals and regions, as well as major cities and bodies of water, has expanded greatly. I can name several states of Mexico and Brazil, counties of England, regions of Italy, and islands of Indonesia. Meeting people from other parts of the world has also greatly increased my knowledge of how this planet functions. And do not even get me started on Google Maps-I can get lost in there, spending hours piddling about the streets of cities and towns and the roads of the countryside on Street View.
In conclusion, geography will always be my original passion. Even as I learn new things, geography will always be there. It has opened new doors of communication for me, and given me the skills to navigate both around Philadelphia and in places that I’ve visited on vacation. Geography is me; geography is you; geography is all of us; humanity is one big map.