Hey everyone. I’ve been back in the U.S. for well over a month now, and this post is mainly to talk about the two capstone presentations I did at my highschool. This post is a little different, especially because most of you guys have already seen me, and I no longer have any new Ecuador updates, but what I’m doing in this post is analyzing what it’s like to try to grow while I’m back where everything started. So here it goes:
I completed my first capstone presentation (a way to tell other people about this program and express your experience) at Girl’s Empowerment Club. I was nervous, which caught me off guard. I want to preface this saying that public speaking has never been easy for me, especially because I’m definitely an introverted person. I gave my presentation and we all discussed what it means to be an intersectional feminist in today’s America. It was great to come back to the club I created and see how it had changed. It was also an important part of my self-growth, but I’ll speak more on that later.
My second capstone presentation was spread throughout the course of an entire Thursday, giving talks to 6 different Spanish classes about my Global Citizen Year experience. I did this just two days ago, so it’s still fresh in my mind, and it was amazing to connect with some students who actually had relatives from Ecuador. Being able to talk about things that were so close to me this past year with someone who also had an intimate connection to them made me feel like I was back in Ecuador again. It made me feel like one of my fellow Fellows had somehow snuck into the Spanish class and we were reminiscing about our Ecuador experience together. It made me feel good.
I’m talking about these two presentations because for me, public speaking is something that heightens my anxiety, A LOT. The days leading up to the all-day Spanish presentations were filled with intermittent periods of intense anxious predictions about how the day would go. That’s how I knew that I needed to do it. In Ecuador, I could slide into my own personal stretch zone whenever I wanted to. Now that I’m back, it’s so much easier to stay comfortable. I know that if I don’t consistently make myself do things that bring up the anxiousness that I so often try to avoid, I’m going to forget how to grow, and forget how to be confident in my abilities to try things that scare me.
However, these presentations were so impactful! While I dreaded speaking with highschool classes, being able to talk with people who knew and lived Ecuadorian culture brought up all the little things about my time abroad that I am already beginning to forget. And although not everybody was as passionate as I am about taking a bridge year, the few who talked to me afterwards and expressed real interest in this program made me feel fulfilled. I imagine those enthusiastic students I met this Thursday living in Ecuador, or any of the four countries, and it makes me excited to think that at this time next year, they might be telling family members that they’re taking a gap year too.