For a stereotypical Asian-American child, there is a path that needs to be followed: high school, college, and then medical and/or law school. The idea of a “gap year” or “bridge year” was never even spoken about in my house, let alone something that I ever thought I would consider. The path for me seemed to have already been laid out: I would go to a prestigious college and live up to the standards that my sister had created. Thus, growing up, I followed the path that was set up for me without a single complaint. I spent countless sleepless nights completing homework assignments and projects on top of trying to balance schoolwork and extracurricular activities only to find that I was just like everyone else – that I was just lost and confused. I could clearly see the path laid out for me, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with my future, and thought that maybe my future didn’t entail what my family had expected it to.
Entering high school, my primary concern was graduating as an individual who was worthy of a prestigious college. To do so, I knew that I not only needed to get good grades, but I needed to be well-rounded as well. I played sports and joined clubs, expecting them to boost my image to colleges, but I graduated with something more valuable to me than prestige: a passion for service. Through my travels with the Global Glimpse program to Nicaragua during my junior year, I was able to learn about true poverty and how people strive to survive day by day on almost nothing. Coming back from my trip, my eyes were wide open. I knew then and there that global development was something that I was interested in pursuing in the future. I dream of one day eliminating world hunger and poverty.
Akira Kurosawa once said that “in a mad world, only the mad are sane” – that in this vast, wonderful world full of dreams and possibilities, the dreamers are the people who truly live. Though my family may see my gap year as mad, I’m just doing what makes me happy, and that is pursuing my dreams. This “madness” that my family sees is what in fact makes me sane. Because I want, more than anything, to pursue a path that makes me feel alive, and one that continues to inspire me everyday.
I am more than excited to take part in this wonderful journey to Santa Catarina, Brazil, in a few short weeks. I am excited to take in every opportunity given and learn from it.
Now that I have expressed the things that I wanted to say. I would like to introduce myself. My name is Thien Tran and I dream big.