As I sit in my compact dorm room at boarding school in Indiana, my three roommates watch, entertained yet baffled, my interactions with my Indian host family over Skype. It has been a year since our tear-stained, poignant departure after a summer immersion/service program where I first understood the meaning of “full feeling”. The simple words that compose this seemingly nonsensical phrase express all the complex emotions my host mother could ever confide in me. American English Translation: “I am very sad. I miss you”. Now the basis of our every fumbling Skype conversation, this phrase has now become a fixture of my vernacular. With my marginal understanding of their native language of Kannada and my family’s small and distorted repertoire of English, we have created our own eclectic variation of sounds, words, and laughter in order to communicate. As I travel between the cultures of boarding school, the small village of Belachawedi in India, my home of Terre Haute, Indiana, and the countless others we all trek through, I am reminded that “full feeling” transcends definition in all languages and cultures. It represents the crux of this gap year—the ability to interact with any person, despite origin, background, or language, and evoke the deepest of emotions. To evoke the deepest sense of who we are and what connects us within a human race.
This is why I choose to utilize a bridge year with Global Citizen Year—to better understand my place in the world and how I can make the most of my abilities. In a Middle Eastern Literature class, we were asked whether we are a product of our environment or if there is, in fact, an unshakeable sense of self. Would we have such high standards of right and wrong if there was no certainty in eating every day? If there was no sense of security in one’s future, would we show a great concern for others? What better way to explore these questions and discover our core strengths than to delve into other, completely unfamiliar environments. As I test these environments, cultures, and subsequently myself, I may uncover more questions, I may discover my answers, but I will always travel with the fullest of feelings, of energy, and sense of exploration.