Would you do me a favor? Imagine I have crafted here an entrancing tale of adventure and romance. Pretend, just for a moment, that I have traversed mountain ranges, crossed miles of unforgiving desert sand, and have gained spiritual insight from the wisest humans in the most remote locations. Paint yourself a picture of an individual so culturally immersed, so globally connected, that a few months in a foreign country will seem like a mere weekend excursion for this person. Then, tear this image out of your mind-magazine and tape it to your bedroom ceiling so that it is the last thing you see before drifting off to sleep.
My name is Carly Sitrin and I am unbearably ordinary. I live in the suburb of Hillsborough, New Jersey, I am a sales associate at a local retail store, and I have two cats. After speaking to my twin cousins about their experiences studying abroad in college, I decided that twelve years of formal schooling was enough to earn me a well-deserved break. Instead of going straight to college, I found Global Citizen Year. Whether it was an act of God, Providence, or simply evidence of String Theory, a friend of mine happened to send me the link to the organization’s website. I immediately felt that “click” of understanding and filled out the application.
For me, volunteering was a way to feel purposeful while also getting me outside and away from my mountainous stacks of books. My mother quickly got me hooked on Habitat for Humanity, which had me working on construction sites almost every weekend in addition to starting a Habitat club at my school. Through the National Honor Society, I also found myself performing odd jobs around my community, like painting the local women’s shelter and weeding an outdoor classroom at an elementary school. By the end of my senior year, my peers voted me “Most Likely to Make a Difference” and my decision to take a gap year was met with an overwhelming amount of support.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am not some idealistic, risk taking explorer. I am simply a curious teenager trying to do my part and maybe learn a thing or two along the way. At our very cores, I know that we all have within us a spirit of adventure and a desire to live the lives of our favorite fictional characters. So I invite you to join me on this journey of maturation, self discovery, and global interconnectedness, and I hope that we can all be inspired to make a difference.