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How riding the bus in Brazil helped me become a better software engineer

14 Sep 2016 How riding the bus in Brazil helped me become a better software engineer

An Interview with Kim Asenbeck, Brazil ’13, Wellesley College

 

Now 3 years after your bridge year in Brazil, catch us up on what you’ve been doing recently.

 

I am currently a rising senior at Wellesley College, which is near Boston. This summer, I’m working at Microsoft as a Software Engineering Intern in the Seattle area.

 

What is a favorite memory from your Global Citizen Year?

 

One of my favorite memories from my Global Citizen Year comes from pre-departure training. One day, we had the opportunity to visit Google’s campus. At Google, we took a tour and listened to a presentation about the company’s work in emerging markets. On that day, I remember thinking, “this is the industry I want to work in.” I had never written a single line of code, but I knew that I wanted to be in tech. Today, I’m a Computer Science major, and I’m on my way to starting a career in the tech industry. Global Citizen Year opened that door for me, and helped me see myself making change in this industry.  

 

Looking back on your Global Citizen Year, what part of your experience has had the greatest impact on you and why?

 

During my time in Brazil, I lived in the periphery of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. Because I lived in the outskirts of Salvador and worked in the center of the city, I spent a lot of time on public transportation. As I passed through the city, I reflected on what I saw outside my window. I considered the disparity between the rich and poor neighborhoods I passed by, and grasped to understand the causes of the endless traffic that plagues the city. Most memorably, I was frustrated by underdeveloped infrastructure– public transportation expansions that had been abandoned, uncovered sewage systems, and evidence of undelivered promises from politicians.  

I reflected on the differences between what I saw out my window, and what I had grown up taking for granted in Germany and the United States. I grew up in Germany, home of the Autobahn, the world’s most advanced transportation infrastructure system. On those bus rides, I gained motivation to affect change. I developed a mission to use my time in college to gain the skills that would allow me to engineer solutions to some of the challenges I faced on those bus rides.

This is a photo of my host family in Salvador! On this day, we were celebrating my host mom’s birthday.

This is a photo of my host family in Salvador! On this day, we were celebrating my host mom’s birthday.

Are you still in touch with other members of your cohort or other Global Citizen Year alumni? 

 

No matter where I go, my Global Citizen Year network comes with me. At Wellesley, here in Seattle, and online, my fellow fellows continue to impact my life. I’ve been especially grateful for the connections I’ve been able to form with fellows from other cohorts. We share a common experience that connects us in a powerful way.

Three cohorts of Global Citizen Year fellows (‘13, ‘14, and ‘15) gathered at Charlotte Kaufman’s house for a reunion this past February!

Three cohorts of Global Citizen Year fellows (‘13, ‘14, and ‘15) gathered at Charlotte Kaufman’s house for a reunion this past February!

How are you continuing to live life in your stretch zone?

 

Global Citizen Year gave me the time and space to develop grit. To me, grit is the ability to feel comfortable in the stretch zone. I’m committed to consistently maintaining a learning curve that’s as steep as possible. These days, in school and in my internship, that means pushing myself to master skills and content that lies beyond my comfort zone.

 

What advice do you have for current Global Citizen Year Fellows and for recent alumni?

 

Consider your Global Citizen Year as a time for skill-building and habit formation. For me, some of my proudest accomplishments from my gap year relate to the habits I formed: working out, meditating, and journaling. After your Global Citizen Year ends, take those habits with you. Reflect on the lessons you learned about yourself, and the values that you formed. Take those forward, and let them serve as a North star.  

 

Because of my Global Citizen Year, I am… driven by a mission. Global Citizen Year gave me the time and space to form the questions and value systems that drive my education and career choices today.

 

 

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