The Capstone project is a Global Citizen Year requirement to help bridge what fellows learned and experienced in-country to the reality of returning home and sharing those experiences.
A few days ago I organized a story sharing dinner at my house. I invited a few of my friends who were in town to come eat dinner, hear a little bit about my experience and India, and share any of their own experiences or epiphanies they had this year. We ate our fajitas with our hands (since there aren’t any authentic/good Indian places where I live), watched part of a Bollywood film where I got to explain bits and pieces of Indian culture, and discovered through our own stories that all of our years had similar themes and surprises even though we were all very far away from each other. It was a great way to reconnect and regather after a transformative year. While organizing a big event or talking in front of their high schools might have worked for some people, I found that hosting a small, intimate gathering was the best and most effective way for me to share my experience.
The biggest role Capstone played in my transition process was in the form of “forced” reflection. In the past weeks, I have found myself missing the one-on-ones with my team leader and although this wasn’t like talking my feelings out with a trusted individual, it made me look back on those moments fondly and re-emphasized the importance of intentional reflection.
Through story sharing with other individuals, I got to see and hear the similarities between my year the years of my friends. For a few weeks it has been very easy to feel isolated and isolate myself from other individuals based on the very different experiences I had or didn’t have this year. Doing a Capstone story sharing with people that were open-minded and close to me made me realize that I wasn’t as alone as I had previously felt, reminded me of the good people I have around me, and helped bridge the gap between my local community and the community I created while in country.
To be honest, I’m not sure if there are aspects of my story that I plan on sharing with my host community. I do feel more inclined to send a little thank you to the in-country India staff for being all around amazing and my host family for showing me empathy when I needed it most.
I connected my story to the Fellow Learning Outcomes of Self-Awareness and Empathy. I titled my story The Spice of Life: A Case for More Empathy. As I mentioned before, I think it was a wise choice to attach some meaning to one of these Outcomes. While they sometimes felt like buzz words, they did help to guide my growth and it was good to pause and think about them again during this meaning making stage of returning home.