Love and Peace, Elise – Capstone

I started my Personal Blog specifically to document my adventure in Brazil. However, throughout the year, I had not published many blogs. Instead, I wrote drafts and let them pile up, unfinished. Some part of me always felt that my experience was not worth sharing, that the 8 months of my life so important to me would mean nothing to anyone else.

I also felt that I had to censor or share only refined work, because anything else, no matter how truthful, just wouldn't be acceptable. That's why my personal blog now has over 40 posts, but my GCY blog only has the required 6. If I could not eloquently share my experience, then would it even be worth reading, hearing, or learning about?

For my capstone, I decided to push back all of these inhibitions and publish my work. While I have refined most of the drafts and backdated them to the day they should have been published, I didn't let myself obsess over "perfecting" each and every one of them. If I had, I knew I would never have been completely satisfied, and I wouldn't have finished.

My Capstone Project, in addition to being a journey down memory lane, has been a journey in self love and validation. For some, it is easy to share stories and experiences, but for others like me, there's a voice in the back of my head that has been telling me that my stories and I are not worth anyone else's time or attention. By constantly telling myself this, I was invalidating my own experience to myself. 

So going through this Capstone and finishing it nearly 2 months after coming home has helped me change my mind about my own story. It's helped me accept that it's true, it happened and now it's over. I now accept that some people may only want the 30 second explanation, but there are also others willing to sit down and read 30 blog posts, or listen to me for 3 hours. And if my work isn't the best that it can be, then that's fine. I'm not my best self 100% of the time, I can't be, but I try, and that's all that matters.  

Below is a blog post from my website . It contains links to all my other blogs on my website, with little blurbs describing them so that you can easily navigate and read through topics that may be of interest to you. I am still updating my blog entries and adding posts of journal entries and random notes I haven't typed up yet, so there will be even more to come! 


Dear Elise,


It’s been a long journey. It’s finally over. GCY is done. Now you’re working as a barista, replenishing your bank account after all that you’ve spent in Brazil. And soon you’ll be off to Oberlin College to start a new adventure.

But first, let’s take a look back at your year. For your Capstone Project, you’ve decided to finish, publish, and share all the blog drafts that you had saved throughout your year in Brazil. Follow these links to your blog posts!

(♥ published on )

The Summer Campaign – The start of my GCY Journey with my basic understanding of the summer portion of the program

GCY and why I’m applying to colleges a second time – Published on the Huffington Post!

The letter – “I have had an outstanding experience in Brazil. But unfortunately…”

Gaining perspective (metaphorically)– Learning to create metaphors about the Bridge Year and embracing multiple perspectives, such as looking through a camera lens

Why I’m here – Ranked motivations for deciding to volunteer abroad with GCY

Scared – How am I supposed to save animals if I’m scared of everything?

Before I forget my English– Moments that I realized my mind was switching to Portuguese instead of English

Which GCY Fellow Are You? – Take a personality test to determine the answer to the question you never knew you were asking!

A Frightful Halloween– My favorite holiday wasn’t filled with Trick-or-Treating like usual, but scary skeletons, roaches, rats, vampires, zombies, spiders, ghosts, and owls at work

Where I’m From – A poem from a Regional Reconnect 1 assignment

It isn’t perfect– Regarding GCY policy, “voluntourism, and my appreciation and critiques of certain aspects of the program

My favorite feeling is a color– My @globalcitizenyrbra Instagram posts and reflections on my chakra meditations and color and feeling associations

3 Moons– 3 months since our arrival in Brazil and the power of 3 in my bridge year

Meu primeiro discurso em Português– My speak up about my apprenticeship, delivered completely in Portuguese, to Fellows, Host Families, and Apprenticeship Supervisors at the Local Partner Gathering

Dissonância Cognitiva– Existential crisis in mixed Portuguese-English about being able to save the world (or rather, not)

Getting to know Garopaba– Description of my trip to Garopaba, a small beach town where a third of the Brazil GCY Fellows are living

2D or 3D?! – One of the questions brought up at R3, do people really think in 3D?

Never too late – Reflections on time during Independent Travel

To the Little Girl at Carnaval– Letter to the adorable little girl that made my day at Carnaval in Catuçaba during Training Seminar 2

Nameless– Parallels between me and my host grandmother as we miss our homes

Secrets of Bossa Nova – Lessons in Brazilian music and a failed bridge year goal

Little Brothers – A little about my host brothers

Tomorrow– An AI tells me what I already know: Tomorrow, I am going to change the world

The Asylum– Poetic prose writing reflecting the frustration of working at a wildlife conservation facility and showing the darker side of the truth

The Freshman 15 – 15 pounds of knowledge about Brazilian food culture

A Casa é Sua // O Cheiro Dela– Language class assignment in Portuguese about a man, his house (but not), and a lost loved one

Host Community – My host community and deciding on a final community project

I want– Poem about what I wanted from this year

seasons– Poem about the changing yet unchanging seasons of 3 continuous summers

Nearing Midnight– Reflections on how my year in Brazil is coming to an end and how I’m ready to go home, but not ready to leave

Who Am I?– Instead of this question, I focus on How and Why I am, and I decide on my Capstone Project

Final Community Project: Manual do Voluntário – My final community project was a new volunteer’s manual for my apprenticeship, R3 Animal

Packing Up Stories – Packing list with differences between what I packed to country and what I am bringing home. Includes stories and advice for future Fellows!

Making Meaning– Making meaning through memes, with examples

Walking places – A poem after an extra weekend spent in San Francisco after ReEntry Training

Stronger – Dealing with the challenges of R3 Animal

Invalidated – My struggle with accepting that my experience is valid and worth sharing

My Bridge Year: Explained – Similarities of how I explained my bridge year then and now

*De onde você é?– Snippets and quotes from throughout the year that made me question my identity and feelings toward my heritage and ethnicity

I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip down memory lane, but you’ll keep writing and posting as you slowly process and unpack everything you’ve gone through this past year. I wish you the best for the future.

Love and Peace,