I perceive my life in terms of colors: about
the contrast between them, how they make other colors pop out and how together
they create beautiful things. Colors can come in landscapes, in marvelous
structures, in people, in memorable moments and outstanding ideas. If there was
a time in my life where I learned all about colors and how to see them, I must
admit it was at UWC India.
Imagine being on a hill in the middle of a
natural reserve where your roommates are all from different countries, where
class sometimes is interrupted by monkeys jumping on the roof and everyone is
most of the time on a state of happiness and confusion. In this place we are
both together and absolutely on our own. Here, we learn that if we want
something we are the only ones that can go get it. Here, we make things happen
and live with the responsibility of whatever the outcome turns out to be.
In this platform is where growing and learning
happens so fast that keeping track of it is almost impossible. Two years pass
by, and when you least expect it, the experience is done. But even then, when
you don’t quite understand all that has happened, you know you are a different
person now. Today, you share a sense of drive and idealism, you’re often second
guessing and thinking of how things could be done differently to change the
course of events. You identify as an UWC alumni, for whatever that means, and
you will be that from now on in a world that now seems so foreign to you.
While trying to make sense of all mentioned
above and who am I as a person outside the UWC atmosphere, I realized that Global
Citizen Year could be the platform for me to do so. And it was.
My journey began in Brazil and it was one of
self-discovery and growth. Even with the little awareness I thought I had of myself,
I found myself navigating the experience with confidence and drive. I was in a
beautiful place where I felt safe, cared for and needed. I felt at home and I
knew why acquiring this sense of belonging was possible. On the one hand, my
relationship with my Team Leader and the GCY staff, combined with a lot of luck
resulted with me being placed in Garopaba, to live in Morro do Fortunato and work
at Ary Manoel Primary school. On the other hand, UWC had prepared me to see the
colors, and I sure saw them.
From moment one, I was determined to make the
best out of my experience, to give and share as much as I could with my host family
and community. In Morro do Fortunato I found the most beautiful family I could
have ever imagined being matched with. There was so much to learn about their
heritage, Brazilian history, family values and the personality and story of everyone
that no day was a boring one. At Ary Manoel Primary School I was taken aback
from all the love and appreciation I received from both the students and staff.
They themselves became my teachers. In Garopaba I found a dance studio and people
that made me feel comfortable under my skin and shared with me the joy of
dance, the joy of doing something different.
flew by I made it a point to help with all I could. I talked to them about the
world, the different cultures, places, religions, and anything they wanted to
know about those parts of the world that sometimes seemed so foreign to them. I
forgot about the day I was leaving and loved them as if I was never going away.
Although it hurt terribly to leave, and it still hurts today, I have no regrets
of having approached my experience this way. I gave my all and left with my
bags full of so much love, memories and knowledge that today I find myself
still unpacking them.
I know you
can say I’m biased but I can’t help but think that one of the main factors that
made the most difference in how I went through this experience was having lived
in a UWC school. As a result, for my Capstone project, I decided to write a
letter addressed to the current UWC students that have access this opportunity.
I believe that, regardless of the UWC you attend to, there are some common
traits that make us a great match to a gap year experience like Global Citizen
Year. Consequently, I both published the
letter in all the social media groups I am part of that connect the UWC community
and emailed it to the UWC college counsellor network. I hope that for the upcoming
application deadlines, more students decide to consider applying to a gap year
option like this one instead of going straight to college. I hope that my
letter reaches all those UWC students that have the potential of creating a
life-changing experience for themselves while impacting positively those around
them in a program like GCY.