Two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have pictured myself standing outside a Stanford dorm at 4 in the morning to wave goodbye to 45 fellows on their way to Senegal and Ecuador. As a recent high school graduate, it takes a lot for me to give up hours of valuable sleep. However, when I found out that the Brazil fellows would not be joining our other Global Citizens on the bus to the airport, I didn’t think twice about wrapping myself up and saying goodbye to people I wouldn’t have recognized on the street such a short time ago.
Fall training was a turning point- not only for myself, but also for my coming year abroad. Even with the good intentions I had previous to the time we spent at Stanford, I didn’t have the perspective, preparation and goals I now have for my time in Brazil. The seminars we had with professors, experts, leaders, role models and entrepreneurs allowed my peers and I to get a firm grasp on what we were embarking on for our gap year. The spectrum of topics we covered was great, but each one stood out as a preview of a valuable skill that could be taken with us regardless of what country we are going to. However, Fall Training was more than a fair of amazing speakers; it was an experience that allowed 56 strangers to go from anonymity to belonging in a close-knit community of kids with a similar goal. As was pointed out on various occasions, anyone of us could give comfort to another person or listen to their life story only to realize right after that we had no clue about their home state or last name.
Global Citizen Year has already caused solidarity to form among fellows and staff alike to make the most out of a once in a lifetime opportunity, which became clear throughout the days spent at Fall Training. Somewhere between the speeches, hikes, outings, dinners and discussions, Fall Training became more than a necessary step in our gap year. It transformed 56 vastly different people into a unit of optimistic and enthusiastic fellows who are ready to take on the world.
Today as I waved goodbye to the bus that took 45 of my new friends to the San Francisco airport I laughed at the thought of being lonely during my time in Brazil. Our class has a support system that exceeded my expectations and I am sure will continue to do so.