8 People That Have Inspired/Impacted Me Throughout Program Launch*

You may be wondering why I've written a list of eight individuals and not a nice, well-rounded number, like ten. Well I'll tell you that there is a deep, philosophical reason for it that will absolutely blow your mind:

Eight is my favorite number. (Mind = blown)

So, here is a list of eight people that have influenced me to some degree during the first week or so of my Global Citizen Year! They're in no particular order (or are they….???? dun dun duuuuuuun):

  1. JuliaGrace

JuliaGrace's favorite color is turquoise. She has three dogs named Mango, Mocha, and Fanny. From Texas, JG (such a cool nickname, right?!) attended a military school and is a three sport athlete. She worked at an ice cream shop before coming to GCY and totally got her driver's license before me. She has blue-green eyes, a glowing smile, and gives great hugs. How is that inspirational, you ask? Well, I only know all this because she and I clicked as soon we met and I immediately started learning from her. I've heard that in order to grow, I need to surround myself with people that challenge me to be better than I am. I think this year I'm going to grow a lot with JuliaGrace around.

Check out her fellow blog here: http://archive.globalcitizenyear.org/author/JuliaGrace-walker/

  1. Sadie

Sadie is the epitome of being genuine. She's prepared, caring, and an amazing listener (which is all kinds of fantastic for a chatterbox like me). She's helped me figure out simple situations that I've overthought, like what to buy for my host family as a gift, and conversed with me about deeper, layered subjects that didn't necessarily have a clear answer, like discussions about mental health and religion. Sadie makes me want to be a better planner, a better listener, and a better person. That's the kind of person we all 'ought to be around, right? 

Check out her fellow blog here: http://archive.globalcitizenyear.org/author/sadie-troup/

  1. Toluwani

I really enjoy being around Tuluwani because she is unapologetically honest. Not necessarily harsh, but certainly straight forward. I consider myself to be honest as well, but the thoughtfulness of her questions and assertive wit in her answers makes her an astounding conversationalist. Have I mentioned that her smile can actually brighten any room? Honestly, just make her laugh and feel the dynamic change.

Check out her fellow blog here: http://archive.globalcitizenyear.org/author/Toluwani-Roberts/

  1. Maria (Intern)

At program launch the entire Global Cohort was split up into ten circle groups that allowed us to exchange our thoughts in a more intimate, relatable setting. Maria was my circle leader, and I have to say that I definitely hit the jackpot. There was something about her presence that brought a sense of calm to me, but also inspired a jovial energy within my group (named Team Pesto Sauce*). She allowed us to be the recent high school graduates that we were, which meant occasionally letting us wonder off topic. What's funny is that instead of forcefully changing the topic or verbally herding us with blatant commands, Maria tied our thoughts and ideas in to the topics we were supposed to cover that day using personal experience as examples for and encouraging further, open dialogue. Maria is off in India with a different cohort, but she's got my heart out there with her. 

  1. Basil

Basil put himself out there at the GCY talent show by sharing his original raps. What amazed me about Basil was his passion for his music. A lot of fellows loved his talent show performance and gather in a lounge for easily over an hour asking him to performance some of his other pieces. The rawness of Basil's lyrics made them relatable to anyone, and that's a great talent to have as a growing musician. I'm hoping maybe Basil will post some of his spoken word on his blog. Speaking of which, check out his blog here: http://archive.globalcitizenyear.org/author/basil-wiering/ 

  1. Danny

I'd seen Danny around for a few days at Program Launch and finally got the nerve to go talk to him. I essentially went up to him and said, " Hi Danny. My name is Marissa and I really like your personality. I'd like to get to know you better." Within 20 seconds we'd agreed to hang out during free time the next day and had exchanged smiles. When we had time to talk the next day, he asked me some of the most thoughtful questions I'd heard upon meeting someone for the first time. He dove into topics I hadn't thought about in years and promoted thoroughly engaging conversation. Considering our current age and the great adventure we still have ahead of us, there's not a fiber in my being that doubts Danny and his capacity for success. 

Check out his fellow blog here: http://archive.globalcitizenyear.org/author/danny-debare/

  1. Esmé 

Esmé spoke their truth. They were funny, open, and really good at not losing our room key. To be honest, they inspired me because they were unafraid of who they were and of people knowing it. There's a certain amount of risk that comes with vulnerability for any person because it opens you up to the potential judgements of others, and Esmé was so secure in themself that they shared their truth, unafraid. I can only stand from afar and admire that, while I strive to not only accept those around me, but discover who I am.

  1. Cecilia

A woman named Cecilia is sitting next to me right now. On this plane to Ecuador, Cecilia is patiently sitting through my nervous attempts at speaking Spanish with her. She's just seen her daughter off to university in Canada and is traveling back home with her mother. She's not fluent in English, but I don't think she realizes that her courage to speak in English with me and listen to my Spanish are my first true taste of Ecuador. After a fun, yet hard, week I can only describe each of our semi-awkward airplane talks as hopeful.

By the time I post this, I'll be in the Quito airport about to start a new stage of my life. Thank you for reading my blog post and taking the first step of this journey with me.

*Due to a lack of wifi for a period of time, this post is just seeing the light of day nearly a week after it was written. I'm well past the stage of landing in the Quito airport, but I sure do have a long way to go…

With Pride,