About three months ago I was accepted to Global Citizen Year. In all honesty, I freaked out. After the rigours application process, which frankly took weeks, I was doubting if a bridge year is the right decision for me. Following two weeks of an attempt at making a decision on my very close future, I decided that I will embark on this journey – A Global Citizen Year.
Global Citizen Year, is a non profit organisation, which recruits high school students from different backgrounds and different countries, training them and immersing them, to a local community in either Ecuador, Brazil , Senegal or India. Through learning the local language, living with a local family and attending an apprenticeship on a weekly basis, Global Citizen Year aims to teach the fellows about themselves, the culture of the people around them and generally open their eyes, and help create a deeper understanding of the world and it’s current affairs. All of this is done, in order that the fellows could later become leaders of change through different mediums, whilst having a much more curios, empathetic and culturally understanding and aware approach towards the world around them. Hence managing to create a positive change in our world.
To me summer passed faster than expected, and so without realising, I was already waiting in line, to board the plane to pre departure training in San Francisco.
It is very difficult, at least for me, to describe that peculiar feeling of leaving home for the first time. Leaving without any knowledge of what the future holds for you, whilst accepting the fact that you will have to adapt your mindset, embracing every experience that comes your way (both good and bad). For me, the beginning of pre-departure was tough, I felt very out of place and continued doubting my decision. However the first day went by and on the second day following a very inspiring talk by the founder of Global Citizen Year, Abby Falik, I had a drastic change in mindset towards the coming year. Understanding that this opportunity, is one that should be taken with both hands and made the most out of. From there onwards, things became better and although I missed home very dearly, I became eager to take in the knowledge and experience each day had to offer.
I tried to boil down all of my experiences in the past ten days, to the three which resonated with me the most:
- Practicing Mindfulness with Will Kabat Zinn: “You won’t know if there’s anything here for you, unless you try it” – This quote by Will, was the one which caused me to self reflect the most about myself. I understood how I, as a person, tend to overthink about the very distant future, whilst missing out on amazing things which are occurring in the present, and around me. The very insightful hour and a half I spent in Will’s workshop, made me realise that from that moment onwards, I should do my uttermost best to always live in the present, whilst thinking the least possible, about what could potentially go good or bad in the future.
- Playing two very meaningful songs, to a group of people I’ve known for less than a week: Although it might sound very insignificant to some people, when I play and/or sing in front of people, it’s only because I feel safe enough, to be vulnerable and expose a very big part of me. So for me it really resonated, when I played both of those songs. One in front of a crowd and the other, in the middle of the night in one of the hallways of the Stanford dorms.
3) Expert panel with Perlam Shah: In our last days in Stanford, we had a workshop with a group of very interesting and innovative individuals, which currently work, in leading positions, towards creating a positive change in our world. From the bigger panel, we were able to choose one expert panel to attend for the course of an hour. I chose to attend the panel with the very intriguing and thought provoking, Perlam Shah. What initially began as somewhat of a quote off, turned into a very intriguing and honest discussion, about situations in the world which bother us the most in our life. What amazed me the most about that discussion, is the way in which Perlam (founder of Kiva), was so welcoming and interested, in which ever issue each fellow brought up. This resulted in a very thought provoking and inspirational conversation. Which taught me the power of persisting with your ideas, no matter how delusional they might sound to those around you.
I would like to end this post, with a habit which ill try and make a tradition, in my posts throughout these coming 8 months.
Words of Gratitude: I would first like to thank the support from back at home, from family to friends, you guys have been giving me amazing support from day one and especially in this past week. Second I would like to thank the global cohort of 2016, each and everyone of you are amazing people and I feel very grateful to be sharing this experience with you all. Last but not least, I would like to thank all of the staff and alums for all their effort and great work, to make this pre departure training a solid base for the coming year, all of the activities were planned out incredibly, and there was great flexibility with the schedule when it was needed. That along with the very friendly and welcoming attitude which was displayed by every staff member and alum, made this a great week to begin with. My gratitude also extends to all those who are following me and currently reading this blog, thank you guys for all the support you’ve given me on this journey.
Until next time, muchas abrazos