August 27, 2011 was the send-off event for the Class of 2012 Global Citizen Year Fellows. Celebrating in the form of a family-style barbecue we ate, laughed, listened, and said our farewells to family and friends. Before the event, I had the pleasure to talk to my family via Skype for the first time since I’d arrived in California. It warmed my heart to see them virtually, and made me grateful for the fact that I have the opportunity to share my story in so many outlets. When the event officially started, it was gratifying to see all the families and friends that showed up not only to support their sons and daughters, but also there to support something much greater than themselves!
For many fellows, the send-off served as a milestone within the Fall Training, but I feel that it more appropriately represented a catalyst for a new beginning. When current fellows talked about the wonderful voyage we’ve undertaken thus far, a new thirst and desire – possibly even a new sense of direction – began to dominate my thoughts and host of new possibilities whirled in my head.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of this journey thus far is the sense of community I have felt within the Fall Training. At the twelve-day mark, it is remarkable to see such profound growth from the fifty-six new fellows I now more commonly refer to as my closest friends. Coming from diverse backgrounds and incredible worldliness, these individuals who make up the cohort of our 2012 Class have given me the opportunity to redefine my sense of self and attain a new idea of family as we trek off into the developing world.
It’s been a compelling journey – packed with mindfulness, engaged leadership, and global competence – and I know I’ve been equipped with the tools that will serve me well during my seven months abroad while experiencing life outside my comforts. I’ve realized these past two weeks that Global Citizen Year isn’t about knowing where to go or solving the problems in our host-communities. Rather, it is setting us up with a purpose – something that will be molded and redefined for the rest of our life – a place to begin our own story.