Hi! Thanks for tuning in for my last ever GCY blog. This
first part is why I decided to embark on this journey. The second part is my
reflection. The third part… aka my last video, is yet to come. Subscribe to my
channel and click that bell notification to be the first to see it!
When I turned 18, my friend Christian asked me the first
thing I was going to do as an “adult”. At that moment, I was at a loss of
words. I’m sure he meant something along the nature of getting a tattoo or
bungee-jumping, you know, one of those “adventurous” things you tend to do just
to do them, but those didn’t appeal to me. What did interest me had been
lingering in the back of my mind ever since I finished my study-abroad trip in
Nicaragua the previous summer: travelling and gaining new cultural experiences.
What stopped me from pursuing this dream of mine was fear.
Fear of being homesick, distancing myself between my relationships, and leaving
behind everything I know. However, I knew that if I didn’t take action, I’d
soon drown in this continuous cycle of feeling unmotivated in my studies and
purposeless in leadership positions in student government and clubs.
It wasn’t until one day where my Theatre Arts teacher, Mr.
Winsatt, asked me if there was anything wrong after a performance where I
forgot almost all my lines. I told him that I had a lot on my mind, mainly
stemming from the pressures I felt from my family to make the “right decision”
for universities, majors, and ultimately, my life. Growing up
Vietnamese-American, I’ve been taught that success can be achieved by attending
a prestigious university and working in a well-paying job. When Mr. Winsatt
responded, he told me to pursue my passions, even if it meant going down the
“wrong” path in the eyes of my family.
That night, I made a decision.
I would rebel against everything I’ve been taught, the educational
system, and my family’s high-school-to-college-to-work plan, by taking a bridge
year in Ecuador with the program known as Global Citizen Year. I choose to live
in a foreign country for eight months, speak a language I didn’t fully have a
grasp on, and pursue my dream of travelling and gaining new cultural
experiences. To quote one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost, “I took the one
less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” My bridge year
signifies my coming of age, making impactful life decisions for myself and no
one else — taking responsibility into my own hands for my own future.
Fast forward nearly a year later, I’m back where I started, in
my dimly light corner in my bedroom. Except this time around, I have a year
full of memories and events that shaped who I am under my belt. However, if I’m
being honest, I don’t think I’ll ever fully process all of these from my time
in Ecuador. I think if anything, I’ll be able to look back and appreciate the
small moments. My memories playing Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, and Just Dance
3 and 4 with my little brothers Pedrito and Martin, trying to walk my
oh-so-savage pugs Poolo and Luna and poodle Luigi at night with my sister Paula
and mother Gloria, watching Narcos while eating papas fritas and drinking coke
with my dad, Esteban, eagerly anticipating eating delicious and crispy fried
pork pieces every Wednesday and Saturday for $1, and falling into Cajas
National Park’s lagoon with my iPhone and $400 Panasonic Camera in my pockets
(and having to walk in wet clothes in the freezing cold four hours more), or
even crying when my family drove me to my final goodbye. All of these small
moments all mix into a giant sopita that was my time in Guachapala, Azuay, Ecuador.