I first heard about Global Citizen Year during my sophomore year of high school. My older brother discovered the program and thought the mission of the program was both important and unique; something his sister would thrive in. Being only a sophomore, the thought of taking a year off from college did not seem like a possibility. I hadn’t even been out of the country at this time, so I was unsure if I would even be drawn to the thought of living abroad for 9 months. During my junior year of high school, I went to Israel with a youth group from my temple. The trip helped me realize my love for travel, how much I love the feeling of adrenaline pumping through my body when I step into a foreign place. It is a feeling that I’ve become addicted to.
Before my senior year, I set a goal to graduate early, which enabled me to feed my love for traveling once again. From January through May, I traveled to Guatemala, Panama and Brazil with my brother, volunteering with different philanthropic organizations. Before my departure in January, I did a fundraiser by selling homemade embroidery bracelets. I raised $1200, which I donated throughout my trip to different organizations. From sponsoring babies to get cleft lip and palate surgery to helping a family get back on their feet after their home burned down, I witnessed how rewarding giving back can be. The people I had the privilege of meeting throughout my trip helped me see a new level of passion and kindness I never knew existed.
My brother mentioned Global Citizen Year to me again at the beginning of my senior year. With the knowledge of my four month trip approaching, I knew the mindset I had during my sophomore year had changed. An opportunity to travel and live abroad for 9 months seemed like a dream come true. One of the most important lessons I learned throughout my travels is that keeping an open mind is essential. I cannot wait to further my leadership skills and cultural awareness and see what I am able to accomplish in the future.