My journey with Global Citizen Year started with a neon green sticky note. I was leaving the Summer Search office one fall afternoon, and a mentor stopped me. He asked about my experiences in Nicaragua the previous summer and how I felt since coming back. I told him about the amazing things that I had done and the amazing people that I had met, and how being back in Boston just was not the same anymore. Nicaragua had left me wanting more, I just did not know what more was. Luckily, Nick, the mentor, seemed to know exactly what I needed. He handed me that magical sticky note with the words “Global Citizen Year” on it and told me to look it up and see if it was something I would be interested in doing. It was. And I was not just interested in the program; it was the “more” that I was yearning for but did not know where to find. So here I am now, ready to embark on an exciting odyssey to Ecuador, confident that I made the right decision.
Lately, I have had to explain to many people why I wanted to take a “bridge” year. When speaking to people, the “more” that I was looking for when I applied started to define itself: taking a year to live in another culture would catapult me into the type of school I love—a school where experience, community, and kindness are your teachers. I have always been frustrated by school and how little means it provides for people to be themselves. There’s always a curriculum, a set standard that everyone has to meet, or a bunch of adults thinking that students just don’t know enough. I feel that these practices only limit students instead of helping them. Schools should not be about following guidelines, that’s neither fun nor intellectually stimulating. School should be about finding out what our role in our community is. About what drives us. About what makes us eager to get up in the morning. The latter is exactly what Global Citizen Year is to me. It is a chance for me to attend a different kind of school. A place where feelings and being an individual matter. A place where I can be challenged beyond belief. A place where I can laugh and dance as much as I want. A place where I can make mistakes and get lost. And ultimately, a place where exploration is not only accepted, but encouraged and cherished.