The first blog post that I wrote for Global Citizen Year was one that I thought about for a long time before writing. It was maybe the hardest post that I ever had to write because I wasn’t yet even out of the gate, and it was difficult for me to figure out how to relate Global Citizen Year to my life when I was still waiting on it to overtake and transform me.
Then it did.
And now here I am, back at my grandmother’s house in the Poconos, back where the tangible counterpart of the metaphorical basis for that first blog post actually stands: a stacked stone wall situated in front of her geraniums and hibiscuses.
Today, instead of trying to imagine what my home in Guatemala will look like, I am trying to adjust to the idea of a newly heightened presence of the color teal in my wardrobe, and how it will be to live in a world of thousands of other people my own age who are all doing the same thing that I’m doing (such as wearing teal on tuesdays, go Seahawks.)
The approach of my immediate future today versus the approach of my immediate future last July feels like the difference between floating in a lazy river versus barreling down Niagara Falls. (But please note that I’m not feeling lazy, just serene, and I wasn’t feeling terrified but something more akin to moving briskly towards the precipice of the unknown.) (Alright… I was a little terrified too.)
But in terms of further comparison:
Today: About to change my preferred mascot from the Phoenix to the Seahawk.
Last July: About to change the language of my everyday communication from English to Spanish.
Today: About to move 100 miles away from home.
Last July: About to move roughly 1,600 miles as the crow flies (which I do not).
Today: The prospect of my birthday+ Thanksgiving+Christmas+New Year+Easter (and more) with my family of 18 years.
Last July: The prospect of my birthday+Thanksgiving+Christmas+New Year+Easter (y mas) with my family of 18 weeks.
The comparison is pretty extreme. In fact, the idea of college now seems ridiculously simple! I know exactly where I’m going to live, I know my class schedule, I have a campus map, the buses run at scheduled times on scheduled routes (Unbelievable! There are maximum capacity regulations! They are observed!) and what’s more, MILLIONS of other people have done this before me! My parents, my sister, my friends have all been there and gosh, with their advice, support, and general knowledge, this feels like such a breeze.
What’s great is that it could one day be this breezy to take a gap year.
Each year and with every group of fellows it will become a more widely considered and better understood option. I believe my GCY gap year gave me things that 20 years of college couldn’t give me. A Guatemalan family. Full-time volunteer experience. Appreciation and understanding of a foreign culture. (To name a few.)
So even though I cringed at the cheesiness of my first blog post about 2 milliseconds post pressing “submit”– there is truth in it. I feel like I’ve done something to build this movement, and I’ll keep helping because it was everything I needed and more and everything I want the rest of my world to have and experience.
What will you do?