Bubble Boy

Russell Bollag-Miller - Senegal

August 1, 2011

I have moved around for the majority of my life. One commonality between all of the places that I have lived (Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts) is an invisible bubble that has enveloped these communities. This bubble is why I have decided to take a gap year. The bubble I’m talking about is essentially a mentality that the people have. It is a mindset that says, “We’re American and that is all I am concerned with.” People within this bubble talk about world issues purely from an American standpoint. There is no effort made to understand why a foreign country is making a certain decision or why a certain war is being fought. The bubble is only concerned with the American side that, (in the community’s eyes) “is the only side that matters.”

When applying to colleges this past Fall, I did not know what I wanted to study and I did not know why I even needed to be rushing into college. Why should I continue this nonstop streak of standardized education without stopping to think? When I posed this question, I reminded myself of this bubble that has surrounded me for the entirety of my life.

I have been fortunate to travel a fair amount with my family during my life. We have travelled to Europe and seen the sights and, technically, I can say that I have been to the Roman Coliseum or the Arc de Triomphe. But for some reason, I thought that because I had been to all of these places that I was outside of the bubble, that I was a “worldly person.” In reality, I had only been exposed to the most superficial level of these cultures. To truly comprehend another culture and understand a country’s mentality, I came to the conclusion that you must completely immerse yourself in it.

This is why I have decided to take a gap year and travel to Senegal. Global Citizen Year is a program that speaks perfectly to what I would like to improve within myself. In order for me to understand the world, I need to first to leave my bubble and actually BE in the world.

Russell Bollag-Miller