Goals for my Global Citizen Year

Hugo Santiago - Ecuador


October 2, 2015

#1) Check off bucket list…

Screw it-you know? Can’t help but think this is a GREAT time in my life, not to mention I don’t have to worry about any college assignments, extra jobs, curricular activities or whatever! I’m 17 and can practically do whatever I want-so I’m going to go out and do what I want to do! So let’s start off by crossing out these bucket list ideas.

#2) Respect Global Citizen Year Policies around other fellows, team leader, your community and especially around host family…

For the longest time I seriously had to believe in myself-as corny as it sounds-and just keep hoping for a breakthrough. Yea, it’s great looking back and thinking-hell, I can’t believe I did that, all on my own. But I have to admit, it’s great just knowing others believe in you too. And one of those others is Global Citizen Year now. They were willing to invest in my future as a leader and brought me all the way out here from a small-nowhere town in California to the actual country of Ecuador! I might never be able to repay the favor directly, but the least I can do is to respect the policies they left out for me (even if some do sound a bit ridiculous and contradictory). No drinking. No smoking. And a bunch of other bureaucratic rules in between. For the next six and a half months. I can do that-for someone who believes in me? Hell, yea-I can respect that.

#3) Improve my writing skills…

I actually got to Media Fellowship! I mean I was rejected at first-and have yet to write an actual blog-but I got it! These blogs are a great shot at practicing my writing and Katie (our mentor for the fellowship) even said she’d be willing to critique my blogs. Not to mention I have a hell of a load of free time…just to read and write…

#4) Get fit…be healthy…

It’s not all about being fit, a big part of is my community back in the United States and staying alive as long as I can (if I’m going to die it’s not because I couldn’t say no to a couple of snicker bars in my youth). My weight is something I struggled with since I was around twelve years old. I use to be one of the chunky kids you probably sat down next to in middle school, I even ripped one of my pants when I was in the sixth grade because I was so fit. Then I became anorexic and bulimic for about a year. I remember how my hair began to fall out, my teeth yellowed and how the scale dropped my from “over-weight” to “under-weight”. I began running to get rid of those bad habits and can’t imagine ever driving back to those disgusting habits, I guess I was just so tired of being picked on-goes to show you how bad bullying can get in the States.

To sum things up what followed in the next few years was changing my urge to purge to working out my arms and legs and gaining a lot of arm/leg muscle from cheerleading / gymnastics/ cross country in 9th/10th grade, losing all that muscle when I started smoking/drinking in the 11th grade, then stopping those new-bad habits to focus in school and being way to busy/not having enough food in my house in 12th grade to even think about working out. Fast-forward to the summer of 2015 when I started to get back into running and remembering just how much I love it…how great it makes me feel…how if I wanted to keep it up I couldn’t mess up my lungs by smoking or drinking or eating too much junk.

Not to mention watching the documentary “Fed Up” really made me think about the cons of sugar foods, what a big deal Diabetes is in the Latino community (I’m Latino by the way) and how I can take a stand by not falling into sugar/coke-addiction (soda coke).

Yea sure, my host brother laughs at my for not pouring sugar into the freshly crafted tomatoes juice my host mom makes me. And yea I know I sound like a prick whenever I turn down a piece of candy from a friend. But I really want this, I want to be a healthy-I want to walk up the stairs without getting tired and I want to live a long life and I especially want to make sure I’m becoming healthy for non-shallow reasons. So I’m happy to say I no longer eat junk food as much as I use to because now when I do it that stuff it just hurts my stomach  and makes me feel sick because I’m not use to it >:p So cheers to this goal and living a longer life and maybe even igniting a change in my community! Didn’t expect this to get so long-sorry!

#5) Try to master the Spanish Language to the best of my ability…

This is the WHOLE reason why I choose Ecuador as my country choice for Global Citizen Year (grrr I really wanted to go to India-but I’ll get there, one day). After talking to Shelly from Friendship Farm-I realized that this goal is too general and I should narrow it down. So, I’m narrowing it down to two things; #1 to be able to converse with my mom on simple talks (ex. how my day was-because this is something I wasn’t able to do back home) and #2 at least be able to be my own informal self. Yea it sucks my old man never took the time to explain to me about my Mexican culture and that I’ve never actually met any of my Mexican relatives. But I learned about it on my own, hell I LIVED it on my own, learned some of the history on my own and to not be able to speak Spanish is an embarrassment. So I’m here in Ecuador, learning Spanish for my mom and my larger community.

#6)Study both United States Government and Comparative Governments…

I want to prove to myself that I can study something on my own, that I’m doing this not for some college degree but because this is something I care about-something important. I want to be able to defend myself when I get back to the States, how to work around the political system and know my rights as a citizen. I want to be able to protect my little brother and my friends.

Just felt like sharing my long-term goals from Global Citizen Year. Here they are-right above yah!  Feeling pumped up to get better (I’m sick right now and thought I’d take the time to type up my goals since I’m stuck in bed all day).

Hugo Santiago