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  • I was walking through the streets of Vitebsk in the country of Belarus, when I noticed something curious.

    In the middle of a beautiful brick plaza were two pools of water and in the pools were a few children swimming around, splashing, and having an overall good time. I thought a middle of a plaza was an interesting place to have pools, so I drew closer to have a better look. Secretly I was hoping I could come back and join the kids in beating the June heat.

    It took me a moment to realize that these huge tracts of water weren’t pools. They were public fountains. And here were normal everyday citizens just having a splash as if it weren’t a big deal. They would swim around in these fountains, then walk to a nearby eternal flame monument and dry off their clothes.

    Not to bore you with back story but Belarus, at the time, was going through some tough economic and social times. Their currency had dropped almost 57% a week before I had arrived. I had gone into Belarus hearing stories of bombings and riots.

    But I saw none of that. Instead I was able to see people enjoying a simple pleasure in life, one not afforded many of us. Who hasn’t seen a nice cool fountain, on a hot summer day, and wanted to just jump in.

    Seeing those kids in the fountains washed all the worries I had from the stories of chaos I heard prior to setting foot in Belarus. It’s one thing to pour over news articles and hear rumors of what you might see in a foreign country, but actually being in a place allows you to form your own experience.

    I saw beauty in simplicity. And as I think back to my run-in with those people in the fountains, I can’t help but smile.
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