Back in the swing of things- the capstone blog

Avinash Jagroo - Senegal


June 7, 2018

Sixty days, nineteen hours, fifty-five minutes and around thirty seconds have passed from the time I left Senegal to the time I started writing this blog. Since then I’ve been in Northern California, Southern Oregon, upstate New York-Syracuse to be specific, my home for the next four years- ,the big apple itself, and finally back down south, with my family, in Houston, Texas. Surprisingly enough, no matter which part of the continental United States I’ve found myself in, I’ve gotten the same question: “How was Africa? “ And not so surprisingly, for the most part I answered: “I don’t know.” Not because I was angered that people couldn’t be a bit more specific with that kicker of a question, but because I genuinely didn’t know. Those first few days back in the states were weird to say the least. I was having to analyze the magnitude of what I had just did, as if I had just survived Armageddon , which came as a shock to me because for the eight prior to that I was just -in my opinion- living life. I’d had great adventures, made great friends and even managed to pick up a few skills along the way. Yes there were challenges, but there was also a loving home, amazing friends, and good ass peanut butter that people weren’t asking about, and initially, that was indeed a bit frustrating. Then came my capstone project. In early April I’d learned that I was selected as a finalist for the Maxwell Scholarship at Syracuse University where I’d present a policy proposal I had drafted a month earlier for the competition. I wrote my proposal on how low college readiness levels in my school district could be rectified by more students being informed about gap years. At the conference, I had to present my idea to a group of finalists in three minutes in an effort to actually win a scholarship. So there I was, finding myself with three minutes to explain my bridge year and why it could be beneficial to other students. Initially I was intimidated. How could I explain all the memories in three short minutes? How can I show these people in three minutes that I’m ready for the road ahead because of what I’ve been through. But then I remembered that this speech, like my year, was what I was going to make of it. So I told them the truth: through all the adventures, all the ups and downs, moments of doubt and assurance, I’d had the best year of my life. I failed at a lot of things, I succeeded at a lot of things, and I learned so much that I’m still processing it all. Unfortunately that didn’t win me any scholarship money, but it did prepare me for some interactions where I’d have to be a bit more patient than I was usually prepared for. Now, whenever I get “Hey Avi! How was Africa??” I simply say “ It was the best year of my life.” And the questions that follow usually allow me to show my year in a positive light. And as what I’m doing now, I’m glad that I can sit back in the summer sun, pick my guitar, and enjoy some time with my friends.

Avinash Jagroo