Pre-Departure Lists

Meredith Jones - Ecuador


August 25, 2018

The countdown is almost done! Today is my last day before I leave for Global Launch in San Francisco. My bags are packed. I have started to say my goodbyes. The dozens and dozens of to-do, packing, and fundraising lists I have made over the last year in preparation for this journey are mostly checked off. As I cleaned my room for the last time, I collected all my lists and sticky notes that have brought me to this point. The clock ticks away and the next chapter of my life draws closer and closer. I would like to start off this journey with a couple more lists.


Things I am terrified about:

  1. Missing home/ closing a chapter of my life:

Being away from my family with possibly limited access to internet to communicate with them. When I return from Ecuador, I will be going off to college, and I may never permanently live at home again. There are so many friends at home I love and will miss dearly. It is crazy to think that many of my friends going to college will each be going down their independent paths. Yesterday I said goodbye to Ricky, a family friend who lives with me. More goodbyes await me today. Goodbyes hurt deep down. They make my head and my heart hurt. I am so grateful for this opportunity and the people who have supported me in my decision to pursue my passions. I am lucky that I will miss my home, but I also feel sad that I may have missed opportunities to reach out to more people and take more risks. This chapter of my life is ending and transitions are always difficult with mixed feelings of loss, gratitude, excitement, and reminiscence.

  1. The uncertainty that exists in the future:

Will I connect with my host family? Will my apprenticeship be the right match? Will I connect with the other fellows? Am I brave enough to communicate in my poor Spanish? Strong enough to live in my stretch zone? Deep down I think that I am, and I will. But, I know that it is important to acknowledge my fears and nervousness so that, if nothing else, I can look back and see my growth.

  1. Writing this blog!

It is honestly so scary for my to think about writing a blog. I rarely share my writing with others. I have the idea in my head that blog writing is similar to journal writing, so I will be processing and reflecting on my personal experiences for a larger audience. Usually I am very selective about how and to whom I share my personal challenges and experiences. I am going to be challenged to share my stories with a wider audience in a responsable, culturally sensitive, vulnerable, authentic manner.


Things I am SUPER EXCITED about!

  1. Experiencing a new culture and connecting cross culturally:

Experiencing a new culture profoundly shapes my perspective and my humanity. I am looking forward to all the opportunities to connect over the next year with my host family (which is very large!) and community. I also can’t wait to learn more about Ecuadorian culture. I just found out today the family/apprenticeship I will be matched with! I will be working with kids and adults with special needs. My host family is very large including a mom, two sisters, two brothers, and a niece!

  1. Connecting with other fellows:

Being around like minded people (especially peers) who want to make a positive impact, inspires me to ask more of myself and push the limits I set for myself.

  1. Stepping outside my comfort zone and making a home there!

I have confidence/trust in my ability to adapt, to take on challenges, and to stick to my values. I cannot wait to stretch myself and gain new skills, insight into self, resilience, a global perspective, and sense of place through my experiences.

  1. Learning Spanish!

I’m excited for the further opportunities to connect cross culturally that proficiency in Spanish may provide. I am very passionate about language and linguistics in general.


I decided to take a gap year because I want to get outside my comfort zone. I know the value of learning outside a classroom setting. I know that walking the beaten path is not always the way to go. Sometimes quietly and patiently treading through the uncharted wilderness path, listening to the sounds of the birds, is the best way to learn from all life has to offer.

However, the uncharted paths are always scarier. I have been on an emotional roller coaster these last months in feverish excitement of the anticipated experiences and in tormented overthinking about if I am brave enough to take on the challenges they will bring to me. At this point I am feeling calm and confident and ready to meet the fellows in San Francisco who I will be growing with over the next year! I am so excited to learn things I don’t even know to expect and to grow in ways I can’t anticipate.

Meredith Jones