“Other” was the name of the box I checked off for the ethnic questionnaire on standardize tests but “Other” isn’t my race. “Other”, in fact, is the substitute for a word that doesn’t exist because a blend of sorts is difficult to define. A mouthwatering dish is a blend of subtle flavors in which the amount of each piquant spice cannot be gleaned; only a pinch of this and a pinch of that. A masterpiece is a blend of textures and colors in which the artist has redefined what is seen and felt. Brilliant poetry blends eloquent words in a way that creates a poignant rhetoric and by changing just one word, the reader responds differently. In his novella Billy Budd, Sailor, Herman Melville asked, “Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other?”
During my global citizen year, I will be an international ambassador, but not one who represents a set standard or who fits into a generic template. Because of this I feel a connection with my assigned country, Brazil, which akin to Melville’s rainbow, is a blend of cultures, languages, races, and many shades of grey. I am like this also, raised in Botswana and America by a diverse community, constantly searching for that definitive line in the rainbow which I finally realized doesn’t exist. So, here I am, embracing the opportunity to blend and adapt and change colors like the chameleon my father brought home from the bush of Botswana.
A Global Citizen Year is more than just traveling, it is being immersed in a new community, redefining your values, and giving back. It is a year that cannot be learned by any other means than to experience it; feeling the pulse of the people, listening to the quiet symphony of nature, inhaling the home cooked meal of a new family, deciphering the nuances of languages, absorbing everything, dancing, breathing, tasting, testing, loving, learning, and living Brazil. Afterwards comes the return to my old community. The one which, from a distance, watched me go through all of this. And then, I give back again, blending everything and everyone in my life to create a new color on the palate of primary colors.
Through the fiscal support of families and friends of previous Fellows, the opportunity is available for me and other globally conscience teenagers to make and then, in return, share these priceless memories and experiences with their own communities. Through my summer campaign, I ask of my own community to financially support the program with monetary gifts so that in the future young adults like me will have the same opportunity. Undoubtedly, Global Citizen Year Fellows, like myself, will return matured with a keener sense of perception, empathy, and sensitivity. Already, I am pleasantly surprised at the manifestations in which my diverse, blended community shows their love and support for me. If you have read this, you are one of those people. Thank you.
Brazil - 2012
An experienced world traveler, Henrietta has an unyielding curiosity and a zest for life. She is a six-sport athlete and was elected captain of the Volleyball team. Recently she has developed a passion for agribusiness in developing countries, initiating her own experimental project growing Amaranth in Botswana. She looks forward to overcoming language barriers and to experiencing on a more intimate level the different challenges that exist in unfamiliar parts of the world.