Capstone Reflection

Elizabeth Ollila - Ecuador


June 6, 2018

I know you are probably wondering what on earth I could still have left to say in one of these blog post after I’ve been home for well over a month. However, Global Citizen Year requires us to do a capstone project–to share our story back home somehow. I chose to share mine by going back to a high school in Chapel Hill with two fellow (now) alumni–Wyatt Foster and Caroline Smith. We talked to students about our experience a meer two days after we had returned home. It was comforting because I was able to reflect and figure out how I wanted to present my year to high schoolers. However, it was also some foreshadowing of how hard it would be for me to properly share my experience. I have realized that I want people to ask me incredibly specific questions because otherwise I go blank and have no idea how to respond. (I also realize that this is unfair because how could they ask me specific questions when they don’t know about my year…) I have also realized that I can’t put my experience into words. Some people can, but I don’t know how to, and it is incredibly frustrating! I have formed a 10 second answer about my year, and it is the same every time, and when people ask me beyond that I panic. While presenting, I became increasingly comfortable with the questions that asked about the program requirements or timeline because I know those answers! But I don’t know how my year was–it was good, it was hard, it was terrible, it was fantastic.

However, I do know that I believe in the program entirely. I know that it has changed my life–even if I don’t know how to explain it. I know that anyone who has even a slight inclination to do it, should. I really appreciated the chance to share what an incredible opportunity GCY gives every high schooler. I enjoyed being living proof that you can do something like this and still go to college and be on the “normal path.” I hope a few of those kids were actually listening and considering it.

It was crazy to see students in the same situations that I was in just a year ago. I could see how much they wanted the school day to be over and the stress that high school causes them. Thinking back to myself a year ago feels like life times ago. While, yes, college and homework and tests scare me (because I’ve gotten very used to not having them), I also realize how excited I am to learn now. I am so excited to take the things I’ve noticed this year and research them, and get the schooling I need to be able to do something I love and am proud of.

Sharing my experience (and hearing the experiences of my fellow alums) to high school students was weird and helpful and made me realize how much I want them to do GCY because, even if you don’t know how to tell your story, it’ll change your life.

Siempre con amor,

Elizabeth


Elizabeth Ollila