Capstone Reflection

Leonardo Salvatore - Brazil


June 5, 2018

I had been trying to set up a Skype session with one of my high school teachers while I was in Brazil but it never worked out. Friday was the best day for him, and it was the worst for me. Besides the jetlag, I had language class every Friday; and when I didn't have to go to the three-hour Portuguese session, his class was on a field trip, testing, or doing something else. The final month of my journey began persecuting me, and needless to say, I had no time to do this. I had missed a great opportunity, but I still wanted to do something with them.

During our stay in Santa Cruz, we received more information about final requirements needed to graduate from the program, among which is the Capstone Project. So, after talking with Yesenia, a friend of mine who went to Ecuador, we thought that we might as well use this opportunity to complete the program's requisites. 
We contacted our teacher and agreed to meet on Monday, June 4. Each of us bringing a short presentation to give, we spoke to the class for 45 minutes.
Although time flew by and we rapidly ran out of it, we were able to both answer questions and talk about our main point, which relates to self-awareness and how one can cultivate it independently from the environment in which one finds oneself. 
I am going to reflect on yesterday's presentation and elaborate on some things I noticed among the students.
Firstly, I had forgotten that I was one of them exactly one year ago. And if I think about who I was then, it becomes evident that this experience has initiated significant changes in me, the most profound of which, I believe, has yet to reveal itself. If I think about the way I have replaced some of the ideas I held so dear, some of the actions that were part of my routine, I realize that the conditions for change, internal transformation, are present virtually in everything and everyone. We need to be acutely attentive, self-aware, to sense and decipher them and employ them in a way that will make us think, if not radically change, and question the way we visualize what's around us. And, once we learn to control our mind and shift its focus towards the present, we can recognize our full potential, and our weaknesses, and allow it to move us forward and transform us.
Secondly, I enjoy having conversations that are not politically charged, something ever rarer nowadays. Whenever I would talk to my friends abroad, politics would get in the way. And talking about it is important, but when it comes up, it kills the conversation, which often ends after one says something the other disagrees with.
I do enjoy talking about the political situations of countries around the world, but I fear that political discussions tend to gravitate towards the United States and its controversial administration.
Talking about my experience with people who don't know anything and are hearing for the first time about it is a somewhat freeing process. It gives you the ability to think about what you're saying from a slightly different point of view, and you can always remember or learn something that you had never thought about; another opportunity to welcome change.
Thirdly, I want to try to get as many people, in high school and beyond, to think about 'third options', to hold on to the idea that life isn't this or that, that there are countless possibilities out there and that we are not obliged to submit to the traditional life path if that is not what we want.
We live in the best time in human history, we have access to so much information and so many resources, and contrary to what we may grow up believing, we can forge our own path, a unique path which is not defined or dictated by anything and anyone. I see many friends and students who are absolutely terrified and bored by the idea of having to begin their college education two months after high school, a place of fundamental discovery. And there's this voice in the back of their, of our, head that tells us to do it blindfolded and keep passing through life frantically without thinking too much about it because thinking is the synonym of wasting time which one could spend producing.
Well, I am glad that more people, especially younger people, are rejecting this notion and trying a variety of things to make sure they identify what they are passionate about and, ultimately, center their lives around it, around what they love and wish to do rather than what they have to do.
I hope that my words have had an impact, even if for a brief moment, on everyone present in the classroom: great brilliant people who will definitely contribute positively to their communities. 
My hope is that more humans will open their eyes to the light that each of us embodies and can infuse into the world, a light that is nothing but our own true self.  

Leonardo Salvatore