Hi, my name is Lauren. I’m from a suburb of Cleveland, and I’m a girl on the move.
I have always loved adventures, from biking 110 miles throughout New York City’s five boroughs to rock hopping in the ravine near my house. But there is one activity that has always stayed the same: my commitment to volunteering and giving time to my community. Volunteering with organizations like Cleveland’s Playhouse Square has given me the opportunity to help others have access to cultural programs, while also teaching me the importance of customer service. Other projects, such as the Labre Project (a Jesuit homeless ministry) has helped me hear the stories of people from all different walks of life. My hope is that my gap year will help me further my love for helping others.
I first heard of a “gap-year” when I was in seventh grade. My mom had clipped out magazine article about girl who moved to India to work with elephants before entering college. I knew right then that I wanted to take a year off (or a year “on”) after high school, but this idea faded away as I went on multiple college visits during high school.
The turning point happened last summer, when I was working on trails in Yellowstone National Park with a program called Student Conservation Association. One of the girls in my conservation crew described how her sister had done a bridge year through Global Citizen Year. After spending a month learning about the program, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do! I applied to Global Citizen Year, and, as they say, the rest is history.
As I prepare to spend eight months in Ecuador, I can’t help but think about the endless possibilities of this epic journey. I’m excited to immerse myself in another culture and I hope to create a lasting bond with my host family, but also to become more independent. As I learn Spanish for the first time this summer, I realize this is just one of the many barriers I will have to overcome while in Ecuador. I’m ready to put on my backpack and let the journey begin!