A Mile Wide, An Inch Deep

Michael Ratliff


July 28, 2011

Having only passed the Mason Dixon Line once in the first 17 years of my life, I had – and still have – a strong desire to explore life out of the American Southeast. I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to attend a United World College, a program designed to bring students from all nationalities, cultures, and social strata together at the culmination of their high school educations in order to facilitate intercultural understanding and create an intellectual environment with unparalleled diversity.

After spending two years in Hong Kong living with students from over a hundred different countries, I was left the desire to fully immerse myself in one country. I had heard about life everywhere from Montenegro to Zimbabwe, but what I knew was a mile wide and an inch deep. I hadn’t had the opportunity to immerse myself in a single culture, to learn their language, to live their lives, and to come to fully recognize the characteristics that define the people. Less selfishly, I had a desire to do something with a real impact. After two years of academic focus with a limited service component, in part due to language barriers, I wanted to take a step away from lectures and exams and towards connecting with people and making a difference in people’s lives for the better.

I look forward to the opportunity that I have in Global Citizen Year to begin to make the impact on the world that we all hope to have at this early point in my life.

Michael Ratliff