Lost in Translation

 We turned the corner and the dusty colonial archways gave way to a large wooden door left ajar. The rest of the group was catching up, my leader being the last one of us to call out “hoyo” (hole) letting us know we had all made it without falling into one of the abundant holes lining the streets. We stumbled through the door; it was 6am and already at least a hundred degrees.

    I walked through the dining area, best described as an oversized breakfast nook attached to the main hall by another large colonial door. I turned the corner into the rectangular main hall and made my way to the line. Angel, the owner,  was obviously a morning person as he had some pep in his step. He came out and greeted us, and as-per-usual he made fun of my sunglasses then asked me how much I was really going to eat today. I got my rice, fried quesadilla, and some “pancakes” (Imagine moist matzah), the pitaya juice was amazing.

     After I had “finished” I went up to the counter and Angel started asking me translations of different types of fish. I had learned them in school so we went through red snapper, cod, and a few others. When I told him the translation for salmon, he and the waitress both erupted into uproarious laughter. I was confused until my group leader informed that “salmon” as pronounced in English means “semen.”


Throughout the last six months, I have gotten three distinct responses to the news that I would not be attending college this fall. Some people were surprised, others worried, and some excited for me. When I was thinking of what to write in my first post I wanted to explain this decision, and I think that these three responses warrant three separate explanations.

To those who are surprised: Your surprise is not all that surprising. I had no idea this opportunity would come forward and when it did I felt like it was insane. Going from Nicaragua to talking about Nicaragua and coming into contact with Global Citizen Year (GCY) I would have never imagined a gap year. The path from high school to college is set for so many and I hold nothing against them but as I was applying to colleges I was also imagining alternatives to four more years in school. I wanted to test myself and my education outside of the classroom before attending college and I think GCY is an amazing and unique opportunity to do so.

To those who are worried: Your worry is endearing and I love all the care and support you all have provided me. I want you to know I have taken every precaution and while traveling abroad is a risk, I believe in the work I will be doing and the power of these nine months to change my life. I have this feeling deep in my gut and for better or worse it’s telling me to jump into this experience.

To the people who are excited: Your love and support means the world to me, just like anyone else who has helped me in the last 18 years of my life thank you for everything you have done for me and I am overjoyed, overwhelmed, and quite frankly without a reasonable response to your support and I hope you enjoy the stories I share in the coming months.

     The last thing I would like to say is that experience would not have been possible without help from something called the Fellows Fund. The fund allows for people like me to low-income students from all over the world to participate in this transformative experience. To help pay back the fund making my Global Citizen Year possible each fellow is tasked with fundraising $2,500. I hope you visit the page and consider donating here. Thank you so much for your time. The next time you hear from me I'll be thousands of miles away, thank you for getting me there.

– Joseph Cole Hansen