GMT -5 (Quito)

Ella Partanen - Ecuador


August 31, 2019

From GMT+2 (Helsinki) to GMT+1 (Sarajevo) to GMT-7 (San Francisco) to GMT-5 (Quito).

That’s my story. Originally from Finland where I grew up and studied until the first year of high school, I moved to Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Mostar, as I had just turned 17. I studied my last two years of high school in a UWC school with students from 72 countries around the world. These two years in Mostar definitely changed my perspective on so many things and got me interested and personally involved and engaged in various topics, many of them relating to for example inequity in the world, peace and conflict, human rights and conservation of the environment. 

Last autumn I was researching different universities when I ended up on the website of Global Citizen Year. What caught my attention about it was the similarity in the organization’s ideas and values compared to UWC. Long story short, my decision to apply was quickly made and after just a few months, I found out that I would be heading to Ecuador this upcoming year. 

My way to California, to Stanford university where I currently am wasn’t easy though. Over the summer, all GCY fellows were assigned with different tasks and projects we would have to start working on – getting visas for both the US and their host countries, fundraising (special thank you for all donors!), getting medical checkups and vaccinations and also just mentally preparing for the upcoming year. Finally everything is starting to be in order (except for my visa which I’ll apply for in-country), and in fact we are leaving the Stanford campus in just a few hours! 

It has been a very exciting yet overwhelming week at the Global Launch at Stanford campus. On top of still being slightly jet lagged, our days have been packed with amazing speakers, interesting conversations about complicated topics, a lot of icebreakers and activities, and simply getting to know the other 150 beautiful fellows that are heading towards Ecuador, Brazil, Senegal and India. Between all these activities I’ve also managed to reflect upon various things, and my goals for the year are seeming clearer all the time as I think about next year. These goals vary from wanting to challenge myself to learn as much as I can about the culture and the country I’ll be living in for seven months, to hopefully becoming fluent in Spanish and obviously learning how to properly dance Latin-American way! 

I’m finally truly starting to feel like I’m ready to go, ready to take the first step into next year. 


Ella Partanen