I have fallen in love twice now. In the past year, I have spent almost three months in Ecuador. That is to say, I have spent a quarter of the past 365 days here in ¨El Mitad del Mundo.¨ Last summer, I was here for a month with Global Routes constructing bleachers and bathrooms for the communal soccer field and living with a host family. As an independent project of sorts, I, along with a friend, taught English in the local elementary school. I am sitting here on the same golden, embroidered colored sofa as last year as I am typing this, but now I fill this seat as a member of the family. Here I am called many things, from Jay to gringo to pollito, but my complete name is Jayshawn Anderson. I am a San Francisco native who has attended boarding school for the past four years in Connecticut at The Hotchkiss School.
I never imagined myself daring to take a gap year, but towards the end of my senior year the thought hit me as my college plans were finally falling into place. A year off in Brazil seemed tantalizing, but the idea of being behind a year in college did not sit well with me. What won me over was the opportunity to do something so exotic during a time when life is supposed to be so uniform. I look at this opportunity as one of the few chances I will have in my lifetime to freely explore. With college, grad school, and the dreaded work days that follow looming, I truly believe this to be a once in a lifetime experience. Learning Portuguese and immersing myself into the rich Brazilian culture will give me lifelong skills that will prove to be valuable in the future, making my decision for a gap year completely worth it.