A sleep-deprived reflection on Pre-Departure Training

Sebastian Paine - India


August 27, 2016

I've taken three naps in the past couple of hours, but something keeps throwing me from my dreams and back into this cramped airplane seat. I'm not sure if this "cramped-ness" is purely physical, or a product of the fact that I am welling up with excitement, bursting at the seams with anticipation, and overflowing with curiosity. So as I attempt stretch my exhausted, physical legs in the dim, almost gloomy glow of the reading light, so too will I try to stretch my proverbial, introspective legs. 
Right now I'm on autopilot, cruising through the heavens, on my way to wherever the clouds may carry me. I don't know when (or if) it will truly dawn on me how crazy I am. I'm moving to India. Who does that?! But the back of my head, and in the core of my soul, I know that it isn't me who's crazy, but anyone going straight to college and missing out on all of this. 
The past week of Pre-Departure Training has been something special. I'll try to elucidate exactly how, but the answers seem to taunt me from just beyond these thick glass windows. "What folly!" they seem to chant, as they dance among the stars and laugh while I drift away in a big metal bird. It's so much to process. Yet I feel as though something is keeping me awake for a reason. Hopefully that reason is to reflect, so I can get some damn shuteye when I'm done. 
Over the last eight days, there have been some truly surreal moments in which
no thought entered my mind save, "Thank goodness I'm here, and not at Freshman orientation". We met and spoke with talented entrepreneurs and philanthropists, including the President of Change.org and the co-founder of Kiva. We debated the Senior Vice President of Google about the merits and ideal trajectory of capitalism. I have had experiences that would make any college student jealous, and I'm not even in-country yet. 
As I look around me on this plane, I see some of my closest friends in the world. I also cannot help but yearn for those whose company I will not again enjoy until April: not only my friends and family back home, but also the other Fellows on other planes to other adventures across Senegal, Ecuador, and Brazil. I love and miss them more than words can express. 
What escapes me, though, is how I could possibly feel such strong connections with people that I met little more than a week ago. After some especially difficult goodbyes to friends and family at home, I was forced to repeat the process with my friends and family in Global Citizen Year. In my heart, mind, and soul, it is as though they have been a part of me since time immemorial.
There is something so indescribably, yet undeniably, human about Global Citizen Year. I truly believe that the bonds we forge here will be far more valuable than any we would find on a college campus. The experiences and cultural exchanges we have will teach us more than any "Intro to…" class. During Pre-Departure Training, I was graced with the presence of some of today's greatest heroes. It occurs to me that I was also surrounded by tomorrow's. 
Now, in our matching blue GCY t-shirts, the sleepy India cohort is ready to take on the world – after some extensive napping, at least.

Sebastian Paine