Between You, Me, and the Wall


July 28, 2009

Recently, I spent the week at my grandmother’s house in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. My Mama Shirley asked me if I would please finish the rock wall she had started to build around her new garden. I saw the faintest trace of the path she had taken into the woods in her initial foray for rocks, and followed it as best I could through waist-high ferns and wiping spider web off my face in what was, I’ll admit, a comical and inefficient manner. I had to dig rocks up from underneath leaf litter and moss while braving creepy bugs that surged out from underneath, then carry them back to the garden a few at a time. Each time I stumbled back and forth, the path got wider and clearer, and eventually my cousin found a pitchfork for me that made it easier to uncover the rocks. Ultimately, I finished my project with a wall that made my Mama Shirl happy.

Now you ask, “Laura, why this innocuous story?” Well, while I built the wall I was thinking about what to write for my introductory blog post, and it occurred to me that my project was a perfect analogy for what I hope to do with Global Citizen Year. I am a person who is not afraid to be engulfed by ferns and spider webs, or get some dirt under my nails. I hope that while I build my wall with GCY, I will simultaneously make the path clearer for you, who are perhaps a person who is less happy with dirt and bugs but still wants to make a difference for someone in need and deserving of help. Perhaps next year’s group of fellows will find their task easier because I and the other fellows will have laid the groundwork that can be used as a starting point, model, and inspiration. Even if you are not a future fellow, you could add even just one rock—you don’t have to build the whole wall yourself. You can be like my cousin and provide us with the tools that will make our work more efficient and give it greater impact.

To me this gap year is not about doing service to put a jewel in my crown, it is truly “movement building.” I want a gap year for service to become a more common occurrence; I want to engage myself in a community of individuals who believe that we have the ability and even the responsibility to change the injustice that we see. I feel that GCY has provided me with the perfect opportunity to begin realizing my dreams for my world.