14 Sep 2016 Continuing to Explore after Global Citizen Year
An Interview with Bennett Quintard, Ecuador ’15, Chapman University
Catch us up on what you’ve been doing since returning from Ecuador last year?
I am about to start my second year at Chapman University and have shifted my educational focus from Business Admin, to Economics and Peace Studies. I will be living in a house this coming year with a few close friends with whom I hope to start a triple bottom line company. After completing Global Citizen Year I was infused with a love and desire to travel and explore. I took group trips with friends to Colorado and all across California, as well as my first solo backpacking trip to Nicaragua this past spring. This summer I have been working at a Brazilian Steakhouse and as a freelance appointment setter for various insurance agents across California and Arizona, at which I work for commission on my own time from wherever I want. On top of this I have continued to run the scholarship/mentorship organization I started in high school. In my free time this summer I have been reading different books, currently Common Wealth Economics for a Crowded Planet, and spending time with friends.
What is a favorite memory from your Global Citizen Year?
My favorite memories looking back on my time in Ecuador have to be the tremendous high energy cultural and family experiences I had. The times I danced till 6 am after a community wedding and the time I sat with my family lighting off small fireworks in the street after a power outage. I look back fondly on those moments of deep connection and love with my host mother and brothers. However I still remember the hardest moments with a visceral twinge. I feel the hurt of homesickness and loneliness and am thankful for the growth I was given the opportunity to experience.
Looking back on your Global Citizen Year, what part of your experience has had the greatest impact on you and why?
It is hard to pin down the greatest impact from my Global Citizen Year, but I am reminded by them all the time. I was able to take off to a Spanish speaking country I had never visited, alone with only a backpack, and feel confident. That could not have happened without my Global Citizen Year. I feel the impact of the time when I stood in the middle of the crowded, cinder block constructed, discotecha surrounded by only afro-ecuadorians who would gawk as I danced along to the blaring music. That feeling of judgement and discomfort rings out in my soul when I see someone who feels out of place. To find the greatest impact from my Global Citizen Year might take a lifetime, but it is a gift to see how it has changed the way I live my life every day.
How are you continuing to live life in your stretch zone?
I have tried to continue to live life in my stretch zone by taking on challenges that make me uncomfortable and a little afraid. This past April I gave a talk to a group of graduating seniors about the analogy to jumping off the cliff and figuring out how to assemble the plane on your way down. I feel that Global Citizen Year taught me the invaluable lesson that a fulfilling and adventurous life full of growth cannot be prepared for completely in advance. Through my travel, relationships and experiences I actively choose to take measured risks and learn from the unplanned and unexpected.
What advice do you have for current Global Citizen Year Fellows and for recent alumni?
For current fellows: All I can ask you is to take each day one at a time with an loving heart, open mind and humble ego. Know that whatever place you are in, no matter how different it is than you imagined, is a place of growth and adventure, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
For recent alumni: The 3 months after returning home, for me, were the most frustrating, saddening and confusing of my life. Find someone who can listen without judgement or constant suggestion, and start there. Finally make sure to remember that even though you’re home, the adventure is still continuing and you are still in a deep state of growth and flux. Take it all in, and know it might not be fun sometimes.
Because of my Global Citizen Year, I am… Perpetually Questioning and Constantly Re-Evaluating