Walking from the security check to the gate for my plane in PDX airport I was alone. I was more alone than I had ever been in my life. At that hour long moment of torture I had left all my friends in Portland, and I had yet to create new friends at Global Citizen Year.
When I was first introduced to the 93 kids in SFO airport, I MAY have been SLIGHTLY intimidated. I want to find friends, but more specifically I want to find my friends. I want to stereotype and categorize each person in the room, find the geeks, the nerds, the jocks, and go back to the familiar sense of cliche prevalent in my school. But, that wasn’t what happened. With just a simple conversation friendships and connections were made that transcended the traditional high school cliches.
When I was in Middle-school I read the the book How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The most stressed thing in that book was: names. And arguably the most incredible thing I learned about myself at Pre-departure training is my ability to spend a WHOLE day with someone and not only not use their name, but not know it either. But the next most important lesson from the book is finding a topic that the other person is passionate about. Something they are excited about can have fun with.
The coolest thing about this group of fellows is the passion we have with taking this Bridge year, and going off the beaten path. We all share the common goal of growing as people. It doesn’t matter who stands at each other’s side, we will use teamwork and leadership to make things work.
The last few days at pre-departure training at the Stanford campus I had the foresight into my time in Brazil. Through out the lectures we spent hour after hour listening to at Stanford, there also existed the sense of community and friendship in the Global Citizen Year 2015 cohort. And in Brazil we will be fully immersed in a country, community, and language so far from our own, there is nothing for us to fall back on. No familiar childhood friend that supported you through thin and thick, no sense of comfort in the terrifyingly comfortable confines of the schoolyard. Instead we must reach out, open our hearts to the adventure, find new friends in our host community, adopt the customs as our own, and be willing to accept change in faith that it will shed the youth and inexperience and bridge the gap to adulthood.