Hello, my name is Stephanie Juanita Zambrano. I am 18 years of age and I live in inner-city Oakland, California. In my community there are a lot of ignorant people and a lot of violence that takes place, as many of you know by my description of my home town as being “inner-city”. A lot of people, when surrounded by this type of environment, get stuck on the negative mess. Many do not see another world outside of their neighborhoods or outside of the city. But I do not judge them; I blame society and the history of colonialism. The more I learn about these types of issues that have happened and that are happening in my community, and around the world, from my empowering and inspiring programs, my mentors, and positive role models in my community, the more I get passionate about making a change. Making a positive change in my community, in my people, and in our world.
As for me, I know that there is a whole world out there to experience with my own eyes and presence. I daydream and think globally and about my positive future every day. I know that there are a lot of good things out there for me in the world, as well as bad things, but I choose to look for the positive in life. I often think about the people who have it harder than me when I’m getting ready to complain about things, and that brings me back to my humility.
In Senegal there is a family and a community for me to leave my mark on. This is why I chose to take a gap year in between high school and college through Global Citizen year. I took this great opportunity for me to grow as a person and to experience a different place in the world because I know the great impact traveling and helping people out will have on me. When I help people in need, it makes me feel great inside like a bunch of butterflies flowing through my body that bring happiness. I discovered that I loved helping people in need when I was giving free breakfast to immigrant day laborers before school. When my service was done, my friends and I walked happily to school, exchanging our emotions about how great we felt from doing service among our people.
I know the great impact traveling to another country will have on me as a person because I went to Costa Rica last summer and it was a great life-changing experience for me. I started to be more globally-conscious, caring more about conditions that people lived under. It made me value what I have back at home and make me want to take advantage of all the great offerings that come my way. And the great opportunities I have to succeed to make a difference in myself, my family, and in the world. Senegal here I come!