NEW YORK–I recently made a 12-hour aerial trek from New York to the Middle East on the airline Emirates’ Boeing 777 service to Dubai.

While half a day on an aircraft seems like an endurance test, the service offered by Emirates makes a world of difference. It was so attentive and so deliciously distracting that before I had time to bemoan the rigors of international air travel, we were descending into thermals rising from the parched deserts of the Arab world.

From a friendly in-flight crew representing no less than eight nations, sumptuous cuisine to comfortable seating, excellent in-flight entertainment and good company, my trek from West to East was seamless.

Of course, there were a few snoozes as I recovered from a fortnight of business meetings and recent Caribbean travel. So it was work time, meal time, movie time, then time to ease back into sleep time.

In the final quadrant of my journey, I had the most delightful conversation with a high school student who also spent much of the flight getting some rest after exhaustive Caribbean travels. Suitably for one her age, there was also a lot of tiredness built up from someone who plays volleyball competitively.

My seat mate was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in Mozambique. Her mother is from Portugal, her father a hybrid of Africa and Europe, and she now lives in Ethiopia.

She was fascinated by the coincidence of my being Caribbean, a region of the world where she spent three weeks over the summer sailing in St. Kitts, St. Barts and St. Maarten. We shared sailing and travel stories, cultural connections and talked about the Rastafarian community in Ethiopia.

She was well traveled and well rounded, with a world view that belied her 16 years of life–a suitable candidate, I thought, for the United World College experience I was privileged to be a part of when I was her age.

Therefore, it was not surprising, with her academic zeal, community service and athletic prowess, to hear she was determined to pursue the same International Baccalaureate diploma that I completed at a United World College. Mine was in Canada; her desire, if successful, is one of the colleges in Europe.

It was a fitting end to a wonderful journey to the Arab world, where a teenage sailor and volleyball student restored my faith in today’s youth.