Changing The World

Bennett Quintard - Ecuador


July 31, 2014

Over the next eight months I will do many things. I will eat new foods, create new relationships, become more self sufficient, see amazing sights, laugh, cry, and grow. But there is one thing that I most definitely will not do. I will not change the world.

I know this is more then a little confusing for all my friends and family reading this at home. To hear that I have no intention of changing the world next year might come as a bit of a shock, but please let me explain.

The other day I had the pleasure of talking with a man over the phone. We had just been introduced recently, and our correspondence seemed to have happened much by chance. However, after we said our goodbyes and hung up the phone, I knew that was not the case. Among other things, on this call, we talked about social entrepreneurship and the idea of changing the world. At this point he gave me a piece of advice that I will never forget. He told me, “Before you change the world, you must first let the world change you.” As those words sunk in, I began to look at this entire year in a different light. We as fellows have no obligation over the next eight months. We are only students, and it is our job to simply learn and grow. As any young aspiring social entrepreneur I have felt a weight on my shoulders as the departure grew closer and closer. I held a misconception that with this year came expectation, that during my time in Ecuador I have to find a way to improve the lives of those around me. This is simply untrue. As fellows this year we are the luckiest kids in the world, because we have one job, and one job only. To sit back and enjoy the ride.

Of course that is easier said then done when “sitting back and enjoying the ride” involves a stressful new environment, difficulty communicating with those around us, and a hole in our hearts where our homes and families used to be. This enjoying the ride will most likely consist of exploding out of both ends as we adjust to the local cuisine and itching the numerous bug bites. But really there is nothing we can do about that, and our job is simple:

Step 1: prepare

Step 2: experience

Step 3: react

Step 4: move forward

This is all we can do, and is really just basic human instinct.

This year we as Global Citizen Year fellows will be doing the most important work we can do, and it will seem like it is affecting no one but ourselves. But just as all great things take time, all great men/woman weren’t made in a year. It takes time and it takes experiences, and those are two thing we will most certainly not be short on. As I sit here writing this blog I feel only blessed. This is because I know that I am about to learn the most beneficial and impactful lessons of my life, and I don’t have to DO anything. All I have to do is BE. The way I see it, as long as we stay open, saying ok world lets have it, the most powerful learning awaits.

As our peers slave over textbooks and papers we will work the fields of a farm high in the Andes, or teach English to a room full of young children. We will attempt to communicate with a new family and begin to understand a new culture. Learning doesn’t have to be a struggle, and sometimes the most important lessons can be learned far from the lecture halls of Harvard of the labs at Stanford.

As I learn and grow this year, the hardest part for me will be to simply BE. It always feels like I have to be doing something, because I have been trained to believe through years of public schooling that to learn a lesson you have to write a paper or ace a test. But I feel that life and social entrepreneurship are a little different.

As I enter adulthood and a world of learning past the high school years, I have grand dreams. they are crazy and bold and I love them because they fuel me. Someday, even though it may sound a little naive, I do hope to change the world. But first, I have to let the world change me.

Bennett Quintard