The real inspiration behind my decision to take a bridge year lies in a tiny classroom at Clear Brook High School in Friendswood Texas. Half way down the foreign language corridor is Madame Chavez’ French classroom, where I soon learned is where any hope of dwelling in ignorance and kicking back in a blow off class goes to die. Before the end of my junior year I decided to take French I as a senior. That’s right, French I, as in year one, as in with freshmen. Why an eighteen year old man child would surround himself with freshmen in a course he’d known little to nothing about is a story all by itself, but for the sake of this blog entry however, just know that I really hated that class at first. Madame Chavez spoke in French and only in French, I had no friends in there, and worse yet, I was surrounded by freshmen, the notorious mortal enemy of the high school senior. I was stuck there, and despite my best efforts to not engage in productivity, I realized I had no choice but to give it my all. I struggled, and struggled hard. For a few weeks all I could say was “Bonjeeerrr.” I couldn’t figure out what pronouns went where, how to respond to simple yes or no questions, and I couldn’t get that gosh darn “R” to roll from the back of my tongue. I was not in my element. A few months down the road however, the tides shifted. While stumbling through a list of vocabulary, I came across the term that would change the course of my life. I read the list aloud, and after butchering the first few words I finally said this one right. Les ailes de poulet. I said it a few more times, noticing that my accent sounded differently than it did before. Not too long after, “bounjeerrr” became bonjour, ” crapes” became crepes, and for a novice level French student, I was starting to sound pretty darn good. Now what was so special about les ailes de poulet that it was able to change my attitude toward my class. Well nothing really, it means chicken wings, but in that moment where I was able to properly enunciate for the first time in months I found myself realizing that I could do anything I put my mind to. Let me clarify a bit. The months leading up to my senior year were a bit rough, I found myself more exhausted and burned out than ever. I had applied to Global Citizen Year early on in the year but never intended to go through with it. The desire to be a force for change just really wasn’t there anymore, and it became a desire to cut my losses and take the road more often traveled. However in that French class, surrounded by kids about a foot shorter than me, I found my sense of being. I persevered and understood that it was far too early to be giving up. I’ll be taking this new found inspiration with me to Senegal, where I’ll need to know a bit more than les ailes de poulet to get by, and I can’t wait for the challenge.