Roots and Wings

Devani Santos


July 11, 2012

Sometimes it feels like I’m setting myself up for continuous heartbreak. Every place I go consumes me and I become so attached to the people I meet. They become friends, family, loved ones, a huge part of me, and then I’m off again. The people I love with all of my being are all over the world, but I am not. I’m stuck in one place when my heart wants to be in so many different places at one time. I’m always missing people and wishing I could go back, but I crave to move forward and develop even more. Sacrifices. This is the price of passion and curiosity. Is it worth it?

Of course it is worth it. After serving as a volunteer with Amigos de las Américas in Nueva Esperanza, Paraguay last year for 2 months to build latrines, hold educational classes for kids, implement a potable water system for the community, and immerse myself into the richness of Paraguay’s culture, I returned to the US with a deepened sense of being. It was clear what I wanted to do and I knew that there would be nothing keeping me from doing it.  There are few things I love more than immersing myself into different cultures and making friends and family all over the world. It is an incredible feeling knowing that I can find a sense of ‘home’ anywhere I go. Being able to take part in promoting community health and empowering people I meet was another plus.

It also became clear that my passion for service is not limited to working abroad. Domestically, I have served as a volunteer and co-president of my high school’s program with buildOn. There was nothing that consumed my time more than volunteering, as I made a commitment to service every single weekend. Whether it was interning at the buildOn office, working on environmental projects, serving meals to the homeless, or bagging fruits and veggies at the local food bank, I never once did service because it made me feel better about myself. I did it because it was my responsibility to encourage those around me to give back and I knew it was the right thing to serve the people of my city; the very city that has instilled a sense of passion, love for diversity, and social change in me. Those are my roots.

Deciding to take part in Global Citizen Year wasn’t a hard decision, or a crazy one, or an easy one. It was natural. Some people ask me why would I want to live in a developing country and do work that I won’t even get paid for. I say, “Why not?” I am a strong believer in not letting school get in the way of real education. Learning by experience stays with me much longer than having to learn material in a classroom. Global Citizen Year allows me the opportunity to focus on my passions in a completely new environment. Spending a year in Brazil will change me for sure, I just don’t know how yet. I think that is the beauty of it all. You never know what will happen and the excitement of being somewhere new makes you want to really dive into what you’re doing. This upcoming year will be an adventure and I can’t wait to see how my Global Citizen Year will alter my life’s path.

Devani Santos